Trump and Democrats agree $2 trillion target for infrastructure renewal

In a rare meeting of minds, US President Donald Trump and Democratic congressional leaders yesterday agreed on a $2 trillion plan to upgrade America’s highways, railroads, bridges and broadband.

Trump met Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer and speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, who said the meeting was a first step to finding common ground. There will be a further meeting in three weeks, at which they will discuss how the programme is to be funded.

Pelosi told reporters: "We came to this meeting with an understanding that there’s great need for rebuilding our infrastructure, with a recognition that we stand at a pivotal place in terms of building infrastructure with a future … we’re very excited about the conversation we had with the president about advancing an agenda of that kind."

Schumer said they began with a lower number but that Trump was "eager to push it up to $2 trillion". As well as well as spending on roads and water, funding would go to renewable energy and developing universal access to broadband.

The agreement will please bodies such as the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), which has been stridently calling for more infrastructure investment for years.

Its "Report Card for America’s Infrastructure", a survey carried out every four years, gave the country a poor grade of "D+" in its 2017 edition.

It commented at the time: "Deteriorating infrastructure is impeding our ability to compete in the thriving global economy, and improvements are necessary to ensure our country is built for the future."

Its analysis argued the US has been meeting only half of its infrastructure spending requirements, and that failing to spend adequately risked rising costs, falling business productivity and GDP, lost jobs and, ultimately, reduced disposable income for American families.

In line with yesterday’s agreement, the ASCE had recommended a $2 trillion spending programme, which it said would be enough to close the country’s "infrastructure gap".

Regarding funding, it said "Congress and the states must invest an additional $206 billion each year to prevent the economic consequences to families, business, and the economy".

Trump made infrastructure investment one of the pillars of his campaign, and has brought forward a number of plans since inauguration (see further reading), however little progress has been made with a coordinated federal plan.

Image: A pedestrian bridge collapsed onto a highway in Detroit in 2014 (YouTube)

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