Senate Dems float $1 trillion infrastructure spending plan

Water and wastewater infrastructure funding programs at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) would receive an additional $110 billion over the next 10 years as part of a massive $1 trillion infrastructure spending plan unveiled by Senate Democrats in January. 

A Blueprint to Rebuild America’s Infrastructure proposes major funding boosts for a broad range of infrastructure sectors, including roads and bridges, rail and transit, public schools, broadband, hospitals and airports. But with Republicans having control of both chambers of Congress, the Democrats’ blueprint stands little chance of fully advancing.

The plan appears to be inspired by President Trump’s campaign-season pledge for $1 trillion in new spending on American infrastructure, though Trump’s proposal centered on implementing new tax incentives to spur private-sector infrastructure investments. The Senate Democrats’ plan, in contrast, would require new direct federal spending on infrastructure and can be viewed as an initial attempt to influence any infrastructure package that is brought forward in the coming months.

While specific legislative language has not been provided, a summary of the blueprint says that the $110 billion in new water and wastewater spending would create 2.5 million new jobs across the country. The money would go toward “major investments in the Clean Water and the Drinking Water state revolving funds, and USDA water programs” in addition to “increase[d] funding for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act.” Policy reforms in the proposal would “give states new flexibility to provide communities with more [SRF] grants rather than loans,” and would decrease the 20 percent state match that applies to SRF capitalization grants.

President Trump did not have an immediate reaction to the proposal, but some leading Republicans on Capitol Hill have favored tying major new infrastructure investments to a tax code overhaul that is among their top priorities for the year.

Some information contained in this news appeared in the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies’ Jan. 30 weekly news brief.

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