House Dems counter with $1 trillion infrastructure proposal

In a seemingly preemptive action to this week’s expected release of President Donald Trump’s $1 trillion-plus infrastructure proposal, Democratic lawmakers in the House of Representatives have outlined a $1 trillion infrastructure plan of their own.

The Democratic plan was included in a “Better Deal” policy package that supporters say will raise wages and create jobs across the country. The infrastructure portion of the document, dubbed “A Better Deal to Rebuild America,” promises “a historic $1 trillion federal investment to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and create more than 16 million American jobs.”

Democratic lawmakers have previously countered GOP-proposed infrastructure spending plans. In January 2017, Senate Democrats proposed an additional $110 billion over the next 10 years as part of a $1 trillion infrastructure spending plan in response to Trump’s then-campaign season pledge for $1 trillion in new spending on American infrastructure.

The new Democratic plan is not necessarily expected to be molded into actual legislation. Instead, A Better Deal to Rebuild America appears destined to serve as a counterpoint to a long-awaited set of infrastructure principles Trump is expected to release this week along with his FY19 budget proposal.

The plan does not offer any specific legislative language, indicate where the money would come from or explain how it would be distributed among various infrastructure sectors, but drinking water and wastewater systems are highlighted in the document. Calling water “the lifeblood of any community,” the plan promises to “restore our historical commitment to addressing our drinking and wastewater infrastructure so that all Americans in both urban and rural areas have reliable access to safe and clean water.”  There are no specific dollar amounts tied to the promised drinking water investments.

The White House’s principles are expected to call for $200 billion in new federal dollars while leveraging private investment to generate as much as $1.5 trillion in total infrastructure spending.

Prior to the president’s State of the Union address in January, a leaked White House memo offered some details of a possible infrastructure spending plan. The leaked six-page document aligns with comments Trump Administration officials have said previously about the plan, such as dividing new federal dollars into four “buckets” that include grants for state and local infrastructure projects, rural projects, a “transformative projects program” and boosting funds for existing federal infrastructure assistance programs.

The leaked outline indicates that the majority of the plan’s funding would go to projects that bring the largest amount of non-federal revenues to the table. Other parts suggest overhauling the U.S. EPA’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program to expand eligible projects to include Superfund and Brownfields cleanups and other activities.

The leaked outline also indicates that drinking water projects would have to compete against other forms of infrastructure for limited federal aid that could total no more than 20 percent of each project’s total cost.

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