Return to search

Little help for infra in Trump budget blueprint

Though the US President has promised a $1trn infra plan, his ‘skinny budget’ would cut $2.4bn from the transportation department.

President Donald Trump’s first spending plan, released Thursday, splashed some cold water on those counting on his administration to boost US infrastructure investment.

Trump’s budget blueprint cut 13 percent, or $2.4 billion, from the Department of Transportation, with the TIGER Discretionary Grant Program and Amtrak subsidies among the plan’s victims. The budget “reduces or eliminates programmes that are either inefficient, duplicative of other federal efforts” or are better handled on a state or local level, the blueprint states.

Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, said that the cuts “do not mean the president is changing his commitment to infrastructure”. Rather, Trump plans to take funding from the discretionary budget and move it to a larger infrastructure bill, which Mulvaney said will be brought forward this summer.

Democrats are not waiting to see. Congressman Peter DeFazio, the top Democrat in the House transportation and infrastructure committee, said the blueprint “exposes the big fat lies President Trump has told the American people when it comes to rebuilding our transportation infrastructure”.

Along with cuts to Amtrak and TIGER grants, which the New York City Bar Association urged the administration to continue and strengthen last month, the blueprint would cut a programme backing air service in rural communities and limit funding for the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Program.

Trump’s blueprint – dubbed a ‘skinny budget’ – represents a first step in the budget process, which will be shaped largely by Congress and by a more detailed spending plan the administration will release later this year. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao called the plan the “start of a national dialogue” and said it “reaffirms the president’s strong commitment to modernising our country’s outdated infrastructure with a strategic, targeted programme of investments that will improve our economy, strengthen competitiveness and create jobs”.

While Trump has promised to produce $1 trillion in public and private infrastructure spending, he has yet to add detail to this proposal. House Speaker Paul Ryan has said he expects Congress to act on infrastructure in the president’s first 200 days in office, but some in Congress expect the plan to be put off until 2018.