Ahead of Trump’s bill, US senators propose own legislation

A bipartisan group of senators unveiled a bill that would establish an infrastructure financing authority using $10bn of government money to mobilise up to $300bn from the private sector.

A group of US senators have proposed their own infrastructure bill as long-awaited details about President Donald Trump's legislation are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

The bill is a bipartisan effort led by Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, and Roy Blunt, a Republican from Missouri, to repair and upgrade the country's ageing transportation, water and energy systems.

The Building and Renewing Infrastructure for Development and Growth in Employment (BRIDGE) Act will “better leverage private funds” to help close a growing infrastructure finance gap, according to a statement.

The senator's proposal will establish “an independent, nonpartisan financing authority” to provide loans to states and localities to fund economically viable infrastructure projects. The programme, similar to an infrastructure bank recently approved in Canada, would receive $10 billion of government funding to draw in $300 billion in private sector investments. The goal is to make the bank operate without government support over time.

“We must think boldly and make real investments in our nation's infrastructure rather than kick the can down the road with short-term fixes,” Senator Warner said. “The BRIDGE Act offers a bold, bipartisan solution to help address our infrastructure needs by incentivizing private investment and pairing it with public resources.”

President Donald Trump has proposed a $1 trillion infrastructure plan and has pointed to the private sector as part of the way to fund his proposal. However, details of the plan have been slow to emerge, and the timetable for crafting legislation has been pushed back for months.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said on Sunday the Trump administration will release an outline of its infrastructure plan in two to three weeks.

Norman Anderson, chief executive of consulting firm CG/LA, said the senators' release of their own infrastructure bill shows they are wanting to see progress.

“I think they certainly want to move things along and they're not seeing a whole lot of activity,” he said

However, he added there was “no appetite for creating a new institution in Washington”.

“You're going to get a real move throughout the Trump administration toward private investment in infrastructure with very little or any new public monies,” Anderson explained.