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Federal infrastructure package discussions stall

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Second infrastructure meeting cancelled between congressional leadership and the administration; no date set for a follow up meeting

Following an April 30 meeting between President Trump and Democratic congressional leadership, the president planned to meet again with members of Congress on May 22 to discuss the path forward for an infrastructure package. While the first meeting focused on size and scope of a potential bill, this new meeting was to focus on funding sources that would support the new infrastructure package. However, the May 22 meeting was cut short over disagreements about other matters not pertaining to the infrastructure package, and a new meeting has not been scheduled at this point.

Looking forward, Congress must still determine how to fund a possible infrastructure package if a bill is going to be passed this year. Counties support an “all tools in the toolbox” approach, including increasing motor fuel user fees (such as the gas tax). The administration has not taken a public stance on raising the gas tax, though it has the support of some members in both parties.

In the absence of a major infrastructure bill, counties are already working with Congress to begin a reauthorization of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which is set to expire September 2020. This legislation provides authorization and funding for all modes of surface transportation, including ports, transit, rail, roads and more – all of which counties own and operate to varying degrees.

As major owners of infrastructure, counties support an infrastructure package that adequately reflects our role in the national infrastructure network. We play a critical role in building and maintaining America’s infrastructure, owning 46 percent of all public roads and 38 percent of the nation’s bridge inventory.  We also own and maintain a vast amount of water infrastructure, including drinking water utilities, wastewater treatment plants and stormwater infrastructure. Counties stand ready to work with our federal partners as an infrastructure package is further pursued by Congress and the administration.

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