BAF IN THE NEWS
Digital Journal: Op-Ed: Conservatives attack Trump trillion dollar infrastructure program (BAF is mentioned)
One of Trump's key economic policies was a trillion-dollar infrastructure spending program to rebuild U.S. highways, bridges and airports.
Washington Post: Trump’s call for new roads, bridges and other public works finds wide support (Marcia is quoted)
If there’s one thing President-elect Donald Trump, Congress and a lot of Democrats can agree on, it’s the need for more spending on bridges, roads and other infrastructure. And corporate America and lawmakers are salivating at the prospect of a windfall.
Washington Post: How a Trump presidency will affect 15 industries (Marcia is quoted)
Oil drillers. Gas pipelines. Coal. Banks. Pharmaceuticals. Construction and industrial equipment. The defense industry.
Wall Street Journal: Trucking Group Starts Meeting With Donald Trump’s Transition Team
Trucking companies greeted Donald Trump’s election with hope for more highway spending and a reprieve from proposed safety regulations.
Wall Street Journal Video: Trump’s Infrastructure Investment Plan Evokes Ayn Rand
Donald Trump’s billion-dollar infrastructure plan calls for private investment to fund improvements. How would that work? And in what ways does it evoke Ayn Rand’s vision of a privatized nation? WSJ’s Jason Bellini has #TheShortAnswer.
Fortune: Trump's Surprising Transportation Priorities
Our next president has praised mass transit, but that might not gel with his private funding plan.
Associated Press: Trump's Path to Boosting Infrastructure Is Full of Potholes
Donald Trump has vowed to rebuild the nation's roads, bridges, airports and railways, but the path to delivering on that promise is full of potholes. When President Barack Obama tried to do it, a Republican Congress fought him at almost every turn, and Trump would have to contend with his party's deep-seated dislike for government spending and higher taxes to meet the $1 trillion tab for his proposals.
Curbed: Trump’s transportation transition leader loves building roads
Ever since President-elect Donald Trump promised in his victory speech to “rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none,” advocates remained hopeful that what he really meant was lots of public transit, too. His choice to lead his transportation transition might reveal his true intentions: A road lobbyist.
The Hill: Five transportation issues to watch in the lame duck
Transportation advocates are excited by the prospect of an infrastructure package passing under President-elect Donald Trump next year, but there are a number of other transportation issues that could see action during the lame duck session of Congress.
WIRED: On His Way Out, US Transportation Chief Anthony Foxx Sets Drones Free
ANTHONY FOXX WAITS for the countdown, then hits the plunger. The catapult releases its bungee cord, slinging the drone from to a standstill to 50 mph in half a second. The drone spins up its twin propellers and flies a few hundred feet up, circling overhead.
Curbed: How cities voted for transportation funding, coast to coast
Thanks to a record-breaking number of transit-focused ballot measures this election, cities across the country will funnel billions of dollars worth of transportation improvements into systems that desperately need it. Of the 45 measures exclusively focused on transportation, it appears that 33 passed this week.
Chicago Tribune: Lawmakers, transportation experts question Trump's infrastructure plan
Illinois legislators and transportation officials say they can't predict what transportation infrastructure policy will be like under the presidential administration of Donald Trump — the Republican said he is for rebuilding the nation's roads and bridges, but it is unclear how it would be funded.
CTPost: State ponders Trump’s infrastructure promises
On its face, President-elect Donald J. Trump’s trillion-dollar plan for nationwide infrastructure improvements is good news, even for Democrats such as Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
The Detroit News: Despite Flint, state infrastructure fixes inch ahead
The lead-laced drinking water that led to tragic consequences in Flint was supposed to serve as a wake-up call for Michigan and the nation, a warning that our neglected, aging infrastructure could not only result in dramatic interruptions in basic municipal services, but might prove hazardous or deadly for residents.
Washington Post: After a year of FTA oversight of Metro, questions about whether safety has improved
Federal officials took the unprecedented step of assuming safety oversight of Metro after the regional agency charged with the job by all accounts proved woefully inadequate. But a year later, some observers question whether the Federal Transit Administration has made any real difference. Others say there has been small-but-significant change.
Washington Post: As Metro struggles, Capital Bikeshare takes bigger role in region’s transit network
When Allie Toomey grew weary of Metro’s chronic delays and service disruptions, she turned to the Capital Bikeshare station a block from her Pentagon City apartment. Now she commutes by bike.
Morning Transportation - By Brianna Gurciullo | 11/14/2016 05:43 AM EDT
With help from Lauren Gardner
HERE WE GO: Congress is back, and lawmakers have until Dec. 9 to pass legislation to keep the government running. Republican Senate and House leaders aim to push forward a continuing resolution — which will maintain current funding levels (including at DOT) through early 2017, when a new administration is in place. As POLITICO's Ben Weyl, Burgess Everett and John Bresnahan reported: "Letting President-elect Donald Trump and a Republican Congress handle government funding is easier politically and gives the GOP more control over final budget outcomes."
A trucking rider this time around? Lobbyists and lawmakers may again try to include in a continuing resolution a fix to a drafting error that's created confusion around trucker rest requirements. Back in September, Congress passed a CR that left out such a fix. It did, however, ensure that Amtrak received funding through a new accounting structure that was outlined in the FAST Act. And it allowed TSA to maintain its levels of airport screener staffing, which were recently raised.
Wrapping up WRDA: The House and Senate passed widely different versions of WRDA in September, with the upper chamber's bill being much broader. And while the House measure would authorize spending to help Flint, Mich. tackle its lead contamination crisis, the Senate's bill would appropriate actual funding. Meanwhile, Rep. Peter DeFazio, the House Transportation Committee's top Democrat, has opposed his chamber's bill because a Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund provision was cut.
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WHAT'S NEXT? Work on Trump's agenda will kick into high gear after the lame duck. Fiscal conservatives may have qualms with the president-elect's $1 trillion infrastructure plan, which he's promised to introduce in the first 100 days of his administration. But Senate Commerce Chairman John Thune and House Transportation Chairman Bill Shuster both appear interested in working on an infrastructure investment program.
What about the Highway Trust Fund? Before the election, Shuster said he expected Congress to take a look at infrastructure spending in January because both presidential candidates had called for more investment. He also anticipated "some sort of tax reform," through which lawmakers could address the Highway Trust Fund's solvency. "I believe it's going to take presidential leadership to do this," Shuster said at the time. Trump hasn't yet proposed a fix for the fund.
TRUMP ON '60 MINUTES': Trump briefly mentioned infrastructure during his "60 Minutes" interview with Lesley Stahl that aired Sunday, though not in response to a question about infrastructure. Stahl asked: "Do you think that your election is a repudiation of [Barack Obama's] presidency?" Trump responded: "No, I think it's a moment in time where politicians for a long period of time have let people down. They've let 'em down on the job front. They've even let 'em down in terms of the war front. You know, we've been fighting this war for 15 years. We've spent $6 trillion in the Middle East. $6 trillion. We could have rebuilt our country twice. And you look at our roads and our bridges and our tunnels. And our airports are, like, obsolete. And I think it was just a repudiation of what's been taking place over a longer period of time than that."
A DEMOCRAT TO HEAD DOT? Sources told the Washington Post that Trump is willing to nominate a Democrat for a Cabinet position, possibly Transportation secretary. The Post points out that President Barack Obama picked Ray LaHood, a Republican. And George W. Bush picked Norman Mineta, a Democrat. MT asks: Would a Democrat be willing to work in a Trump administration?
ICYMI: Mike Pence has taken the place of Chris Christie as chairman of the Trump transition team. The New Jersey governor was demoted to vice chairman. Rep. Lou Barletta, the chairman of the House Transportation's subcommittee on economic development, is a member of the executive committee. Rick Dearborn, Sen. Jeff Sessions' chief of staff, replaced Richard Bagger as executive director. Bagger, an ally of Christie's and a member of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's board of commissioners, is now only an adviser to the transition team. Read the story by POLITICO's Shane Goldmacher, Alex Isenstadt and Glenn Thrush here.
** A message from the National Association of Manufacturers: It's time for America to come together. The National Association of Manufacturers believes moving forward means #BeTheSolution. Investment in infrastructure, including ways to advance energy infrastructure, is a promising place to start. Learn more about the NAM's infrastructure initiative, "Building to Win," and how, together, we can build economic growth. http://www.nam.org/buildingtowin **
Tuesday — The American Highway Users Alliance holds its 2016 Annual Meeting and Policy Seminar. PHMSA holds a public meeting as it readies for the upcoming United Nations Sub-Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods session. NTSB presents findings from its investigations into two midair collisions that occurred in 2015. NTS also holds a meeting to determine the probable cause of an amphibious passenger vehicle crash from 2015. The House E&C subcommittee on commerce, manufacturing and trade holds a hearing on self-driving cars. Bloomberg holds an event on self-driving cars, including an interview with Blair Anderson, under secretary for policy at DOT.
Wednesday — The National League of Cities begins its City Summit in Pittsburgh. The Transportation and Related Equipment Technical Advisory Committee, which advises the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Export Administration, holds a meeting. FHWA holds a "Talking Freight" seminar. The Senate Appropriations subcommittee on THUD holds a hearing on self-driving cars.
Thursday — The FRA and NJ Transit hold an open house in New York for members of the public to ask questions about the Hudson Tunnel Project.
A NEW WRINKLE IN THE VOLKSWAGEN SCANDAL: Volkswagen and Audi confirmed over the weekend that the United States and Europe are investigating whether some of the luxury automaker's vehicles had automatic transmission systems that lowered carbon dioxide emissions during lab testing, the Wall Street Journal reports . A "person familiar with the situation" told WSJ that Audi disabled the so-called "defeat devices" not long before Volkswagen admitted that it had used similar technology in diesel-powered vehicles to cheat testing for nitrogen oxide emissions. The latest revelation involves vehicles with both diesel and gasoline engines.
Lab testing vs. road use: "Audi engineered the transmissions to run at very low RPMs during treadmill tests, but not to kick into a higher performance mode unless the steering wheel turned 15 degrees, as would be normal in everyday road use," WSJ reports, citing the "person familiar with the situation" and "internal Audi documents." "That ensured the vehicles passed emissions tests, but once on the road, were geared to enhance driving enjoyment," according to WSJ. "But in performance mode the cars emitted higher levels of carbon dioxide." The EPA and Volkswagen have apparently been discussing the issue since July.
REMEMBERING CLARENCE DITLOW: Lawmakers, activists and safety advocates paid tribute to Clarence Ditlow after news spread that the 72-year-old had died Thursday following a battle with colon cancer. Ditlow was the longtime executive director of the Center for Auto Safety. Here are some of the statements honoring him:
— Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.): "A tireless champion for consumers, his work has resulted in better government oversight of automakers, the installation of key safety features, and the exposure of safety defects in millions of cars, SUVs and other trucks ... .Mr. Ditlow's discovery of numerous automotive defects, combined with his persistent pressure on safety agencies and automakers alike, led to the removal of many unsafe vehicles from the road."
— Ralph Nader, who founded the Center for Auto Safety: "You could hardly have imagined a more perfect blend of knowledge, compassion, persistence, resilience, extraordinary strategic and communication abilities and factual diligence as was embodied in such an amiable man. He was a civic personality par excellence who never wavered in his many fights with wayward corporate adversaries."
— Jackie Gillan, the president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety: "Clarence was the 'Sherlock Holmes' for auto safety when it came to investigating and identifying faulty vehicle systems including defective airbags, tires, ignition switches, engine mounts, door and child seat latches, and deadly gas tanks. He was a trusted ally and his veracity made him an indispensable resource to the safety and consumer communities, elected officials, government agencies, the media and the public."
— "China trumps Trump when it comes to infrastructure." Bloomberg.
— "A vehicle's sound system can be a matter of life and death." The New York Times.
— "Lawmakers send autonomous car bills to Snyder." The Detroit News.
— "Computer outage briefly grounds flights on several airlines." The Associated Press.
— "Toyota to settle U.S. truck rust lawsuit for up to $3.4 billion." Reuters.
— "After a year of FTA oversight of Metro, questions about whether safety has improved." The Washington Post.
— "Residents of Minnesota town return home after derailment." The Associated Press.
— "San Jose International Airport investigating breach after transient found on restricted airfield." NBC Bay Area.
— "Tesla's future in Trump's world." Bloomberg.
THE COUNTDOWN: DOT appropriations run out in 25 days. The FAA reauthorization expires in 319 days. Highway and transit policy is up for renewal in 1,419 days.
THE DAY AHEAD:
2 p.m. — NTSB releases its 2017-2018 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements. National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW.
Did we miss an event? Let MT know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
** A message from the National Association of Manufacturers: Great nations build and invest in great infrastructure. When communities have greater access to economic opportunities and when manufacturers have efficient ways to move goods to market, the quality of life rises, productivity soars and societies thrive. Current U.S. infrastructure, however, is in an alarming state of disrepair and in urgent need of strong investments. Manufacturers want to #BeTheSolution. So as we call for healing and moving our country forward, we are calling for a major investment in renewing our transportation systems and advancing energy infrastructure. Americans are demanding a stronger, more inclusive economy. And that's why infrastructure can be part of the answer. Historical data indicates that previous significant investments in infrastructure have aligned with high levels of growth and more aggressive economic activity. That starts with sending WRDA to the President's desk this year. In 2017,the President-elect and Congress must act boldly. Learn more from the NAM's "Building to Win" infrastructure initiative. http://www.nam.org/buildingtowin **
Stories from POLITICO Pro
GOP leaders look to dodge spending, debt ceiling clash Back
By Ben Weyl, Burgess Everett and John Bresnahan | 11/10/2016 01:08 PM EDT
House and Senate GOP leaders plan to move lame duck legislation that funds the government at current levels into early next year, part of a strategy to split up any showdowns over a government shutdown and a debt ceiling hike.
Senior Senate Republican aides said lawmakers would discuss the matter next week to sign off on the plan, but there were doubts emerging about crafting a big spending deal while President Barack Obama is in charge. Letting President-elect Donald Trump and a Republican Congress handle government funding is easier politically and gives the GOP more control over final budget outcomes.
"The word of the day at least is that it would be a high preference of the leadership to keep the [continuing resolution] as clean as possible," said Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), adding that a larger agreement to fund the government through the rest of the fiscal year would be too messy to pass before a Dec. 9 deadline.
One Republican source said leadership needed to "see how much appetite there is from members" over whether to pursue a CR or an omnibus spending bill.
"We'll probably try to do CR until March or April, a clean one," said a senior House Republican, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "We can't pass anything longer, and that gives Trump time to set up his administration."
Delaying final spending levels any later would probably not fly for defense hawks, who are eager to give the Pentagon a budget boost. Stiff spending caps for defense and domestic spending under the 2011 Budget Control Act are also set to return next year, which will weigh on lawmakers and a Trump White House.
Many on the right are already pushing for an appropriations punt.
"It would be inappropriate to negotiate a lame-duck spending deal with President Obama and [Senate Minority Leader] Harry Reid, which would further jeopardize the nation's fiscal health," Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, said in a statement.
Jennifer Hing, a spokeswoman for House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), said discussions on how to proceed in the lame duck are ongoing.
Republican leaders are also eager to de-link the need to increase the debt ceiling from funding the government. Privately, House Republicans say that with Trump in control of the Treasury Department next year, they will not have to worry about government funding and debt ceiling deadlines colliding, as Obama repeatedly faced. Some in the GOP believe the Obama administration manipulated the precise debt limit deadline for maximum political leverage.
The Trump administration can use "extraordinary measures," as the Obama administration did, to extend the debt-ceiling deadline for months, possibly until the fall. That would give Trump and GOP congressional leaders time to work out a spending deal without a debt crisis hanging over their heads.
Congress voted in the fall of 2015 to "suspend" the debt ceiling - currently at about $20 trillion - until March 2017.
"It will be Trump's Treasury now, we won't have to worry about that," said a House GOP aide close to the issue. "We can control that."
The politics of a debt-ceiling increase are tough for any president and party in power on Capitol Hill. That's why it is likely that there will be only one such vote during the next Congress, and Republicans will try to set the new ceiling so high that it will allow Trump to implement his domestic agenda.
And as distasteful as a debt ceiling increase is, next year's lift might be less dramatic than recent clashes. Previously, Republicans used the occasion to try to extract policy concessions from Obama. Now, they're likely to want to move past it as fast as possible.
Senate CR includes Amtrak account tweak, leaves out trucker rest rider Back
By Lauren Gardner | 09/22/2016 02:03 PM EDT
The Continuing Resolution bill filed today to keep the government running into December would ensure Amtrak receives money through a new accounting structure and allows TSA to maintain airport screener staffing levels, but would remain mum on the issue of truckers' working hours.
The CR submitted by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell secures changes made in the FAST Act to separate appropriations for the Northeast Corridor from Amtrak's state-sponsored and long-distance routes. The move eliminates the potential for confusion over divvying up funding as the corporation and FRA implement the new order.
It also includes language giving TSA flexibility to allocate funds as needed to keep the recently increased number of airport security screeners on board in the near term. The Obama administration warned lawmakers last month it would need the wiggle room to avoid sending those employees home on Oct. 1.
However, the bill, which would run through Dec. 9, leaves out a fix to a rider included in the fiscal 2016 omnibus delaying enforcement of an Obama administration rule outlining rest requirements for truckers. Trucking groups are clamoring for lawmakers to ensure a Bush-era regulation is the one regulators enforce in the interim.
That issue is sure to resurface in December as Congress works to fund federal agencies through the end of fiscal 2017 before a new administration takes over.
House approves WRDA bill with Flint amendment Back
By Annie Snider | 09/28/2016 06:27 PM EDT
After weeks of debate among Republicans about whether to send federal aid to help Flint, Mich., recover from its long-running drinking water crisis, the House on Wednesday approved a major water infrastructure with support for the lead-tainted city.
By a vote of 399-25, the House passed its Water Resources Development Act, after an amendment to authorize $170 million for Flint was passed added to the package. That amendment was approved by a vote of 284-141, with one member voting present. Four Michigan Republicans, including Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, took to the floor to urge its passage ahead of the vote.
House Republicans agreed to the Flint aid a day after Senate Democrats filibustered a stop-gap spending measure over the lack of help for the city, whose nearly 100,000 residents have been dealing with lead-tainted drinking water for more than two years. Late Tuesday night, Republican and Democratic leaders huddled to hash out a compromise that would set a path for aid to the beleaguered city and shake loose the continuing resolution, which passed the Senate earlier Wednesday and is expected to clear the House later in the evening.
While Wednesday's vote may have paved the path for the short-term funding measure, the final deal for Flint is not yet closed. The House WRDA bill will now have to be conferenced with the Senate's much broader measure, which includes not only its separate Flint package and traditional Army Corps of Engineers projects, but also sweeping changes to the country's water and wastewater programs as well as environmental restoration programs from Lake Tahoe to the Great Lakes.
Senate aides say they hope to bridge the differences in an informal conference while Congress is recessed during October and have a negotiated package ready for swift approval when lawmakers return after the election.
The Flint aid package stands to be the most controversial of the differences between the bills, with key House Republicans still expressing concern about setting a precedent for the federal government footing the bill for local infrastructure problems.
"I've got some concerns with that proposal because you're opening up a whole new area that feds haven't really been that involved in because that's really a state and local issue, and of course it's a man-made issue," said Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee with jurisdiction over water. "It's dangerous going forward."
But experts say the inclusion of the Flint amendment in the House's bill helps to grease the skids for negotiations.
"Figuring out what the details of it are is vastly easier than jockeying for position on whether or not it will be included," said Stephen Martinko, who managed the 2014 WRDA bill for House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.).
Martinko, now a lobbyist with K&L Gates, argued that any compromise measure — particularly if it includes some of the Senate's broader provisions — will have to be fiscally-conscious to be able to pass muster in the lower chamber.
"The House is more conservative than the Senate, so you have to keep the cost down. If you're going to take on some of these additional provisions, it will be important to ensure it comes back and remains a bill that is targeted, focused, and remains a bill that the house can support," he said.
Also complicating the picture is the fact that the ranking member on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. Peter DeFazio, voted against the measure over the exclusion of a provision relating to harbor maintenance funding. The Oregon Democrat said he also was concerned about parochial amendments added to the bill that could carry broader consequences.
"There's a bunch of wacko stuff that was thrown in last night that's got to come out," DeFazio said ahead of the vote. "We have little tiny local problems where the chairman has allowed them to change national policy. ... These are big deals."
Conservatives vs. Trump's infrastructure plan Back
By Kathryn A. Wolfe and Lauren Gardner | 11/11/2016 05:11 AM EDT
One of Donald Trump's top campaign promises — a trillion-dollar program to rebuild highways, tunnels, bridges and airports — is already meeting resistance from conservatives.
The president-elect has vowed that his infrastructure proposal will create "millions" of jobs, likening it to Dwight Eisenhower's creation of the interstate highway system. It's one piece of his agenda that's drawing support from Democrats, who love public works programs just as much as Trump loves to brag about his experience building golf courses and skyscrapers.
But Trump's 10-year infrastructure proposal could offer an early test of how some of his more unconventional policy ideas will fly with conservative Republicans in Congress — even though he hasn't made it clear whether much, or even any, of that $1 trillion would come from federal coffers.
Dan Holler, spokesman for the group Heritage Action for America, questioned the job-creation claims for such plans, in the same way that conservatives have scoffed at the benefits of President Barack Obama's $832 billion stimulus.
"Conservatives do not view infrastructure spending as an economic stimulus, and congressional Republicans rightly rejected that approach in 2009," said Holler, whose group is the political arm of The Heritage Foundation.
He said Congress should devote its energies to other items on Trump's wish list.
"It would be a mistake to prioritize Big Government endeavors over important issues like repealing Obamacare, reforming our regulatory system and expanding domestic energy production," Holler said. "Along with confirming a conservative justice to the Supreme Court, these are the type of legislative efforts that will help anxious families and folks struggling all across the country."
Trump's proposal even drew flak from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative group that his transition team has turned to for advice on his environmental policies. "There is little evidence that these public works projects promote long-run economic growth," CEI fellow Marc Scribner wrote Thursday in a blog post on "The Great Infrastructure Myth."
It's unclear whether these critiques presage major problems for Trump's plan, which he has yet to put forth in more than skeletal form.
The language Trump has put out so far suggests that his actual infrastructure spending would amount to far less than $1 trillion in federal money — relying instead on policy strategies like tax credits to spur private investment in transportation projects. He also hasn't suggested any fix for the government's perpetually cash-strapped Highway Trust Fund, which relies on a federal gasoline tax that Congress hasn't hiked for 23 years.
Even so, Trump cheered infrastructure advocates from both parties when he gave the issue a prime mention during his victory speech early Wednesday.
"We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals," Trump said. "We're going to rebuild our infrastructure — which will become, by the way, second to none — and we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it."
For transportation supporters, the vocal buy-in from the developer-turned-politician spawned hope that his plan may get a warmer welcome from Congress than Obama's most recent infrastructure proposals received.
"I think that the X factor, the missing ingredient, has been in presidential leadership," one GOP industry lobbyist said."It's been a real champion at the White House who really puts his or her shoulder into it."
"He gets all of that instinctively," another transportation lobbyist said. "That's all very positive."
Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) and House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) both gave Trump's proposal some encouraging though noncommittal words Thursday. Thune said through a spokesman that he "supports enacting a national infrastructure improvement plan," while a spokesman for Shuster's committee said he's "encouraged ... that the idea of addressing transportation is gaining some traction in Washington."
Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, the top Democrat on the Banking Committee, said he expects the topic to be a top priority for the panel next year, noting that "both presidential candidates proposed badly needed infrastructure investments that will help get Americans back to work." Hillary Clinton's five-year, $275 billion infrastructure proposal would have relied on revenue from some vaguely defined tax overhaul — though Trump boasted that his plan was bigger.
On Wednesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told fellow Democrats that her party wants to work with Trump "to pass a bill very fast," according to a source on a conference call.
The group Building America's Future — chaired by Democratic former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg — pledged to work with Trump and Congress "to tackle this unifying issue in the first 100 days." Pete Ruane, CEO of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, invoked Trump's post-election comments about "healing" after a bruising campaign, saying that "the bipartisan aspect of this is compelling."
Lamenting the "crumbling" state of the nation's roads and bridges has been a bipartisan pastime for years. Both Trump and Vice President Joe Biden have bemoaned the "Third World" condition of New York's LaGuardia Airport, where Trump often lands his private Boeing 757.
But Congress has been stuck for years on the question of how to pay for such projects, with suggestions such as bonds, enhanced revenues from tax reform, some hoped-for peace dividend or a hike in the gasoline tax all coming and going with no action.
Trump will most likely have great sway with the GOP-held Congress, however, especially after his surge in the polls helped Republicans retain control of the Senate. Having the same party in charge of Congress and the White House certainly opens "the opportunity to solve a critical problem in a way that has lasting benefits and impact," said Katie Thomson, a former general counsel at the Department of Transportation who now works at the firm Morrison Foerster.
As Pelosi's remarks show, Democrats may also be eager to sign onto a bill that promises to boost domestic spending. "There is a potential irony here, in that his more natural allies on specific items may actually be Democrats," Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said.
Still, it's unclear how much Trump's proposal would actually boost federal dollars.
His pledge for the $1 trillion in investment, based on a proposal crafted by economist Peter Navarro and billionaire financier Wilbur Ross, talks about a "bold, visionary plan. ... in the proud tradition of President Dwight D. Eisenhower." But it would rely heavily on private funding that's driven by a tax credit — whose cost they say would be offset by tax revenues reaped from the resulting jump in business activity. That tax scheme would apply only to money-making infrastructure projects like toll roads and airports.
In Trump's 100-day "action plan," he says his proposal "leverages public-private partnerships, and private investments through tax incentives, to spur $1 trillion in infrastructure investment over 10 years."
To experts in transportation policy, that language suggests relatively little — in fact, possibly no — investment on the federal level, relying instead on tax breaks to entice the private sector into opening up its wallet.
"Clearly the devil is in the details, but I think that whatever Trump comes up with, you're probably going to see a fair amount of involvement from the private sector," the GOP lobbyist said.
Trump initially floated a much different version last summer, telling the Fox Business Network the government would spend as much as $550 billion and "make a phenomenal deal with the low interest rates." Pressed on the cost, he added: "We have bridges that are falling down. I don't know if you've seen the warning charts, but we have many, many bridges that are in danger of falling."
"Donald Trump Proposes $550 Billion in New Government Debt," the resulting Wall Street Journal headline read, suggesting the difficulties such a plan could face in a Republican Congress that has spent eight years lambasting President Barack Obama over deficit spending. The conservative site Newsmax called his idea "a steaming pile of hogwash."
His new talk about financing and "leveraging" might avoid those fiscal pitfalls, but it wouldn't fix the Highway Trust Fund. And for many transportation boosters, a plan that doesn't do that is a halfway solution.
"Financing is a nice piece of the puzzle," said Bud Wright, executive director of the Association of American State Highway and Transportation Officials. But, he added, "We certainly believe that we need additional federal investment, but really finding funding to do that — using some traditional or creative sources to generate new revenues — is important."
The only way to fix the trust fund long term, experts said, is to generate reliable, recurring new revenues. But Thomson noted that that has been out of reach for some time — through both Democratic and Republican administrations.
"It's a political problem regardless of who's" in power, Thomson said. "There's a fundamental unwillingness to make politically difficult choices."
Ed Mortimer, executive director of transportation infrastructure for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said his group will make a case to the Trump administration that some kind of sustainable funding fix should be part of whatever plan the new president offers.
"We're very optimistic that we're going to find a way to come up with some long-term, sustainable funding," Mortimer said Wednesday. "We got a great shout-out last night."
Heather Caygle and Annie Snider contributed to this report.
Trump shakes up his power structure Back
By Shane Goldmacher, Alex Isenstadt and Glenn Thrush | 11/11/2016 05:29 PM EDT
Donald Trump has made his first key decision as president-elect, sidelining Gov. Chris Christie, who had been tasked for months with preparing his transition team, in favor of Vice President-elect Mike Pence, the first hint of the internal power dynamics in the nascent administration.
Trump had largely ignored his transition efforts ahead of Tuesday's election, out of both a combination of superstition and the unlikeliness of his ascent, Trump advisers have said. But now that a Trump administration is a reality, he has dived into the task, with meetings in Trump Tower where Pence, the most experienced government executive in Trump's tight circle of advisers, has emerged as a key player.
On Wednesday, the morning after Trump's victory, Pence and Trump met separately with some aides ahead of the meeting held with a wider circle of advisers that same day. On Thursday, Pence joined Trump for his meetings on Capitol Hill with Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a visible expression of the expanded portfolio Trump is expected to hand to Pence.
"Donald Trump understood the message the town would take from it and trusts Pence completely," a top Trump ally said of the decision to put Pence in charge of the transition operation. "It strengthens Pence in D.C. as having the trust of Donald Trump."
A second Trump confidante said Pence was in line to be "more important than any other vice president in history."
A third Trump adviser said that Pence was being tasked, in particular, with helping Trump navigate Capitol Hill, given his longstanding relationship with Speaker Paul Ryan. Pence has already been on the phone with House Minority Nancy Pelosi, her office has said, and he spoke with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a person familiar with the call said.
"Everybody in our conference likes and respects him," said a senior Senate Republican aide.
On the transition, Pence won't just be a figure head at the top. Christie's loyalists who had been orchestrating the transition were also pushed aside Friday, including Rich Bagger and Bill Palatucci, both of whom were now named simply as advisers.
Rick Dearborn, chief of staff to Sen. Jeff Sessions, will step in as the new executive director. Three Pence aides are now involved as well: Nick Ayers, Josh Pitcock, and Marc Short.
In New York, Trump, and his inner circle, have been focused most urgently on filling the role of White House chief of staff. It is a job that Christie and his allies have pushed for him but that possibility appears to have faded. Two of the top contenders are Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and Stephen Bannon of Breitbart.
"This will all come down to, what is Donald Trump looking for in a chief of staff, how is Donald Trump defining a role of chief of staff and, based upon the role, who is the most competent person in his very limited circle of trust to fill it," said one Trump confidant.
Trump's team has wrestled with the mixed message that naming Priebus as chief of staff would send to his impassioned supporters: picking the head of the political party as his most important aide after railing against the political establishment from the start of his candidacy.
Bannon, in contrast, has led the charge against the GOP establishment from his perch at Breitbart and would be an ideological match for Trump's populist base.
Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner is widely expected to wield significant influence in the West Wing but his title and exact role remains unclear. The sidelining of Christie — who as a prosecutor a decade ago put Kushner's father in jail— is seen as one more sign of the influence of Kushner, who is married to Ivanka Trump.
As Trump met with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office on Thursday, Kushner was spotted roaming the White House grounds with Obama's current chief of staff, Denis McDonough.
The lobby of Trump Tower was busy Friday as many of the real estate mogul's campaign staff and key advisers made their way in and out of the president-elect's Manhattan office, including former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump, Kushner, Anthony Scaramucci, Rudy Giuliani, digital director Brad Parscale, senior communications adviser Jason Miller, senior adviser Stephen Miller and campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks.
The transition team's formal staff, announced Friday, is a who's who of the campaign, from Kellyanne Conway and David Bossie, Trump's campaign manager and deputy campaign manager, respectively, to Trump originals Dan Scavino and Hicks.
There was one notable addition, though: Katie Walsh, who has served as chief of staff to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.
Christie will remain one of several vice-chairs of the transition, including Dr. Ben Carson, Newt Gingrich, retired Ret. Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Rudy Giuliani and Sessions. A source close to Trump said Christie "will still be around"— hardly a ringing endorsement.
Trump also named a 16-person executive committee to oversee the transition. It included three of his children: Ivanka, Donald Jr., and Eric Trump.
The president-elect issued a brief statement on Friday announcing the changes, saying, "Together this outstanding group of advisors, led by Vice President-elect Mike Pence, will build on the initial work done under the leadership of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to help prepare a transformative government ready to lead from day one."