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Big Infrastructure Deal Faces a New Hurdle

Thursday, February 06, 2020

From Bloomberg (the publication, not Presidential aspirant): Democrats and Republicans seem to disagree about almost everything with one exception: the need to repair and upgrade America's shaky infrastructure. Although it's difficult to envision big legislation passing in an election year, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she intends to try. One thing working in favor of a large infrastructure bill is that both parties have grown increasingly comfortable with running huge budget deficits. But that doesn't answer a pressing new issue: in the tightening and evolving U.S. jobs market, it might be hard to find enough construction workers. In other words, if money was an obstacle before, now it might be a labor shortage. Read more here. But in Tuesday's State of the Union address, the President seemed to throw water on that. Politico observed "Two years ago, Trump stood in the House chamber and called on Congress to produce a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill. On Tuesday night, during this year's State of the Union and two years wiser about the ways of Washington, it became clear his sights are aimed much lower. The President called on Congress to 'rebuild America's infrastructure' by passing the Senate's surface transportation bill, a $287 billion reauthorization of the expiring FAST Act. It may not be the most ambitious target, but it's probably a more realistic goal than his previous proposal(s). The Senate bill is largely a continuation of highway policy as it's been done for decades, although it also has a first-ever climate title and buy-in from Democrats on the Environment and Public Works Committee. The brief infrastructure mention was a rare moment of applause from both sides of the aisle, but the early signs aren't great for a friendly agreement. House Democrats are already preparing their own infrastructure bill, though the White House has already derided it as a 'Green New Deal 2.0".