What Speaker Paul Ryan’s Departure Means For An Infrastructure Bill

US House Speaker Paul Ryan’s departure from Congress could lead to the GOP losing its grip on the House, but the prospect for an infrastructure bill remains fair.

Trump Infrastructure Proposal Key Points:

A 53-page document outlines the proposal, seeking to leverage $200 million of federal money to stimulate $1.5 trillion in total investment, including state and local resources and private capital.

  • $50 billion in block grants to governors to fund rural infrastructure projects
  • $20 billion increase in loans and bonds to finance transportation, water, rail and other projects
  • $20 billion for transformative programs, described by the official as “next-century” infrastructure
  • $10 billion for a capital financing fund to handle projects that the federal government is currently building
  • Creating a new “one agency, one decision” model to expedite the project permitting process

Some say this could mean that President Donald Trump likely would work closely across the aisle with Democrats to pass a bipartisan bill.

“On one hand, this will almost certainly hasten Republican loss of the House in November — which might help boost Democrat Infrastructure spending plans, especially because Trump will have to move quickly to some workable bipartisan solutions if he wants to maintain any semblance of effective governance,” said John Rossant, chairman of the New Cities Foundation and chief curator of LA CoMotion.

“On other hand, this could also result in continued turmoil in Washington in the near term — which doesn’t augur well for anything.”

Greg Valliere, chief global strategist at Horizon Investments, envisions gridlock as one of the possible scenarios after midterm elections – should the pendulum shift in the Democratic Party’s favor.

“It sure looks like the Democrats will recapture the House this fall. If not quite a ’wave’ election, a policy change is coming in 2019-20” even if the Senate stays Republican, which is the safest (but not certain) bet,” he said.

Even if a gridlock were to occur, “the prospects for an infrastructure bill are fair, but everything else looks unlikely,” Valliere told Bloomberg. “This is not a bad scenario for the markets, which generally like gridlock.” 

President Trump has sought bipartisanship on rebuilding the nation’s crumbling roads and bridges, calling on Congress to pass his $1.1 trillion infrastructure bill.

His infrastructure agenda envisions a public infusion of $200 billion which could be used to attract private sector investment, along with state and local spending. He also sought the bill to cut down on project permitting and approval time to less than two years.

“Any bill must also streamline the permitting and approval process – getting it down to no more than two years, and perhaps even one,” President Trump said during his State of the Union address.

Today, permitting an infrastructure project often takes years, more than 10 years in some cases.

For example, permitting the desalination plant in San Diego began in 2003 and was completed, after 14 legal challenges, in 2012. It finally opened in December 2015.

The push for infrastructure spending underscores the urgent need to rebuild our nation’s aging bridges, highways, airports, and tunnels. About 54,259 of the 612,677 bridges in the U.S. are “structurally deficient,” according to a report released by American Road & Transportation Builders Association. Americans cross these deficient bridges 174 million times a day.

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