US Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) each weighed in Wednesday prior to President Trump’s afternoon speech in Cincinnati highlighting the nation’s infrastructure.
Portman, appearing Wednesday morning on Bloomberg TV, said of President Trump’s infrastructure ideas, “I am supportive of the principles. He laid out some principles which indicated the administration was going to take this on as a task after perhaps health care is done and maybe as part of tax reform or after tax reform. I think that’s great.
“If you look at our roads and bridges around the country, probably about a third are in bad shape. In terms of our bridges, we have probably about 10 percent of bridges that are essentially functionally obsolete. I think that’s the term for it. One happens to be in my hometown of Cincinnati, which is the Brent Spence Bridge. Our ports are in need of help. Our airports are in need of help.
“So, I am encouraged by what I see,” Portman said. “They’re talking about public/private partnerships as you know, David. So in terms of how you pay for it, what they have talked about is taking some federal money, almost like seed money, and then using the leverage of private activity bonds or tax credits or other instruments, TIFIA funding – which is a federal guarantee or loan — to try to expand the amount of resources available. And I think it is an opportunity to both improve the economy, by the way short-term and long-term. It puts people to work immediately and then it creates a better economic environment going forward if you choose the right projects.
“And then secondly, I think it is an opportunity to work on a bipartisan basis on something where Democrats and Republicans alike seem to have similar views.”
Sen. Brown, in a statement released Wednesday morning, said, “I will judge any infrastructure package by whether it’s good for Ohio. What we’ve seen from the President so far falls short. We need the real, meaningful investments the President promised on the campaign trail, not handouts to Wall Street or fees and tolls on working families.”
Brown said Trump’s $200 billion funding proposal for infrastructure is essentially wiped out by more than $200 billion in cuts to existing programs proposed in his budget. Brown said the President’s infrastructure budget makes no mention of Buy America provisions he promised on the campaign trail.
Brown pointed out that he and Sen. Portman introduced legislation in January to apply Buy America to all taxpayer-funded infrastructure and public works projects.
Brown stated that he helped draft a proposal that he and his Democratic colleagues released in January titled “A Blueprint to Rebuild America’s Infrastructure.” The proposal aimed to start the conversation about how the $1 trillion President Trump has promised to invest in American infrastructure would improve the nation’s transportation, water, housing and community infrastructure while creating thousands of construction and manufacturing jobs in Ohio.
The plan includes $210 billion for road and bridge repairs and $200 billion for a Vital Infrastructure Program (VIP), which would direct money toward projects of critical national significance; $110 billion to modernize outdated water and sewer system: $130 billion to replace and expand rail and bus systems; $100 billion to address affordable housing challenges, eliminate blighted properties that bring down local property values, and remediate lead hazards that put children at risk of lead poisoning; and $75 billion to help modernize America’s schools without burdening local taxpayers.
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