Trump raises infrastructure investment plan to $1.7 trillion

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that his long-awaited plan to help rebuild the nation’s infrastructure would result in about $1.7 trillion in overall investment over the next 10 years, a larger figure than he previously announced.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a working session with mayors at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 24, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

The plan, which will be detailed in part at next week’s State of the Union address, “will actually probably end up being about $1.7 trillion,” Trump told a gathering of mayors at the White House. Trump previously valued the plan, which is expected to feature a mix of federal and local investment, at $1 trillion.

The administration is expected to ask Congress for $200 billion in federal spending on infrastructure aimed at encouraging more than $1 trillion in state, local and private financing to build and repair the nation’s bridges, highways, waterworks and other infrastructure.

Republican Senator John Thune, who chairs the Commerce Committee, told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday that the big challenge “would be how do you pay for it and the (Trump administration is) talking about spending cuts, which are unspecified.”

Thune said it was probably going to be “tough” to get Democrats to support a deal without the federal government raising additional revenue for improvements.

He said in order to get a bill approved this year, it would need to be moving through both the House of Representatives and Senate by late spring or early summer. Trump will need to make a big push to win approval, Thune added.

Reuters reported last week that the plan involved $100 billion in cost-sharing payments for projects and $50 billion for rural projects, with the remaining $50 billion largely split among “transformative” projects such as high-speed trains, and funds for federal transportation lending projects.

A leaked document released this week, which an administration official confirmed was “largely accurate,” shows that the administration plans to reduce the cost-sharing for projects to no more than 20 percent of the costs from the traditional 80 percent federal share. That would result in a higher overall infrastructure boost if states agree to shoulder more of the costs.

Democrats have criticized that proposal and argued the Trump administration should back more direct federal spending.

The bill will also aim to streamline environmental reviews and it make it easier to build highways and other projects and allow for greater tolling on roadways.

Reporting by James Oliphant and David Shepardson; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Peter Cooney