By Kate Fox Wood, AEM Director of Infrastructure Policy

President Trump recently introduced eagerly-awaited details of his infrastructure plan.

How likely is the plan to pass, and what would it mean for the equipment manufacturing industry? Here are a few key things to think about as you assess the president’s plan.

AEM continues to push on all fronts independently and in coalition with like-minded business groups to make sure all of the industry’s important priorities get pushed across the finish line. While the devil is surely in the details, it remains incumbent on the industry to stay engaged so that a Congressional legislative package does materialize – and does so soon.

Trump laid down a marker, and the ball is in Congress’s court.

Don’t expect the White House to roll out any further details at this point. In summary, the plan calls for $200 billion in new federal spending to fund $100 billion in incentives to match state and local money for infrastructure, $20 billion to expand loan programs, $50 billion in rural infrastructure block grants to states, and $20 billion for transformative projects. It continues to reiterate a common refrain from the White House to streamline project delivery and deregulate that process and suggests that the federal government become more involved in supporting “transformative” infrastructure projects (think submissions generated by AEM’s Infrastructure Vision 2050 Challenge). The set of principles also acknowledged the workforce development issue.

The Trump plan is supplemental and incremental. The $200 billion in new monies would be spread out over 10 years. That means readers should essentially take the numbers listed above and divide that by 10 to assess the yearly impact of the Trump plan.

One thing is certain for the next step towards a U.S. infrastructure bill: Americans overwhelmingly support Congress taking action this year. According to a recent poll conducted by AEM, 81 percent said it should be a top priority and over 65 percent said Republicans and Democrats should work together to pass an infrastructure bill.

So what is Congress likely to adopt? What will they drop?

The task now falls to Congress to take up the Trump plan, or fill in the details. The many committees with jurisdiction over such a broad infrastructure package in the House and Senate could also take things in a different direction, too. Both House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster and Senate Environment and Public Works Chair John Barrasso have indicated they are working on something. Leadership in both chambers, however, hint they need further convincing to take up the issue.

There are plenty of elements in the Trump plan that should appeal to leaders in Congress, particularly Republicans who are in control.

The plan calls for a “One Agency, One Decision” process to empower government agencies to make permitting decisions within two years; this has inherent appeal for small-government conservatives in Congress. So does the plan’s policy centerpiece, calling for a series of enticements for private developers or local government entities to shoulder the bulk of the cost of infrastructure projects.

The plan’s $50 billion for general rural infrastructure projects – ranging from broadband development to rural roads or inland waterways – is also sure to get attention, but expect some debate about how that pot of money is parceled out to states and how much latitude is eventually given to governors to determine where it is spent.

What’s missing from the plan?

Any new investment that would result from the Trump plan would come on top of the investments supported by the Highway Trust Fund or other major programs that support aviation or utility infrastructure. Those programs continue to form the backbone of our national infrastructure policy. Nothing about the Trump plan changes that fundamental structure, and Congress will have to continue to act to support those programs in the years to come.

There are a lot of moving pieces. Stay tuned!

Now that the Trump administration has made its move, there are plenty of moving pieces going forward. The president recently voiced support for raising the federal gas tax, which would infuse the Highway Trust Fund with much-needed revenue, but wouldn’t necessarily offset the cost of his plan. That support spurred anti-taxation groups to rev up their opposition efforts, which hints Congress and others are taking a hard look at this long-touted solution.

If you have questions about the status of federal infrastructure legislation, please do not hesitate to reach out to Kate Fox Wood, AEM’s director of infrastructure policy at

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