Trump to Unveil $1.5 Trillion Infrastructure Plan
(VOA): U.S. President Donald Trump is set Monday to unveil his long-awaited $1.5 trillion plan to tackle the nation's crumbling infrastructure, meeting with state and local officials to discuss the initiative. The plan aims to turn $200 billion in federal funds and another $1.3 trillion in state and corporate investments into a 10-year plan to fix America's roads, bridges, railways and other infrastructure. In a Twitter comment, Trump said, "This will be a big week for Infrastructure. After so stupidly spending $7 trillion in the Middle East (on U.S. military operations), it is now time to start investing in OUR Country!" In his State of the Union address last month, Trump said, "Every federal dollar should be leveraged by partnering with state and local governments and — where appropriate — tapping into private sector investment to permanently fix the infrastructure deficit." The $200 billion in federal funds over the next decade would come from cuts to existing programs, a sum Trump has conceded is "not a large amount." Of that, half would be spent on an incentive program to match funds from state and local governments. About $50 billion, would go toward rural projects in the form of block grants to states. Another $20 billion will go to "transformative programs" meant for new and innovative projects, with $20 billion for expansion of loan programs and private activity bonds and the final $10 billion for a "capital financing fund." The plan also seeks to shorten the time and expense of getting federal permits to no more than two years. Currently, the process can take five to 10 years. Whether Congress approves Trump's plan is uncertain. Some Republican lawmakers are already voicing opposition to the overall cost of the plan, on top of recently adopted tax cuts and increased spending over the next two years that are already adding to the country's $20.6 trillion in long-term debt. Meanwhile, some Democrats have objected to the relatively little federal contribution to the plan as compared to the amount that Trump is calling for from state governments and corporations. Shelley Poticha, of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said, "President Trump's infrastructure proposal is a disaster. It fails to offer the investment needed to bring our country into the 21st century. Even worse, his plan includes an unacceptable corporate giveaway by truncating environmental reviews.'' But Jay Timmons, president of the National Association of Manufacturers, praised Trump "for providing the leadership we have desperately needed to reclaim our rightful place as global leader on true 21st-century infrastructure.''
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