With the industry still awaiting US President Donald Trump’s plan to spur $1 trillion in infrastructure, a group of Congressional Democrats has released its own set of principles.
The plan from the New Democrat Coalition, made up of 61 moderate Democrats, included a call for encouraging public-private partnerships a week after Trump reportedly told House Democrats that PPPs “don’t work”. It also proposed the creation of a federal infrastructure bank to “leverage taxpayer investments by multiples with private sector investments by providing loans or guarantees to state or local governments”, following the launch of a similar institution in Canada this year.
Taken alongside Trump’s recent comments, the group’s plan represents a dramatic partisan reversal. While infrastructure was seen as an issue with bipartisan support, the administration had consistently stressed the need for private investment and brought on PPP specialists such as DJ Gribbin and James Ray. Democrats, meanwhile, called for a greater role for direct federal spending.
The coalition’s plan does warn that for many projects, including in rural areas, “public-private partnerships are not feasible”. It also calls for greater investment into the Highway Trust Fund and proposes pairing tax reform with infrastructure to generate revenues, another idea considered early in the administration that seems to have lost steam.