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Business, labor united on infrastructure investment

Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Schumer wrote a letter to President Trump on Monday to outline priorities for Tuesday’s meeting about infrastructure.

   One day before President Donald Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., were scheduled to meet to discuss infrastructure, business and labor leaders spoke Monday about the importance of completing an infrastructure package.
   “If you can get the biggest business organizations and the biggest labor organizations together to agree on something, that type of momentum is what we hope to keep feeding,” said Bill Sullivan, executive vice president for advocacy for the American Trucking Associations (ATA), during a press call hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “We’ll see how the folks get together [Tuesday], but we continue to be optimistic.”
  Pelosi and Schumer in a letter to the president on Monday outlined their priorities for Tuesday’s meeting, which included an infrastructure package with “substantial, new and real revenue.” Pelosi said earlier in April she would like to see an investment of up to $2 trillion and would discuss with the president how much should be financed.
   “We need an infrastructure plan that’s funded with real money and not gimmicks,” said Neil Bradley, the chamber’s executive vice president and chief policy officer, during the call. “This is a historic opportunity if we can simply resolve the financing question.”
   The Chamber of Commerce, ATA and AFL-CIO, which was represented on the call by legislative affairs representative Tom Trotter, have all expressed support of increasing the federal gas tax.
   The chamber supports raising the federal gas tax by 5 cents a year over a five-year period as part of its four-part infrastructure plan, which also calls for more private investment.
   A Democratic official reportedly said Schumer would not consider a gas tax increase unless Republicans consider undoing part of the tax cuts from 2017, according to The Washington Post.
   “I have to say when we have bipartisan support for adjusting the gas tax and we have the precedent of the states, whether they’re red or blue, doing the same thing on a bipartisan basis to help fund infrastructure, trying to relitigate other fights like the tax reform bill as part of infrastructure isn’t going to help us get to a solution,” Bradley said. “As we’ve noted, infrastructure has the chance to be one of those rare bipartisan issues, but it’s not going to remain bipartisan if there’s an insistence on bringing in unrelated fights into the middle of that.”
   Bradley also said “a significant portion” of the budget caps agreement reached between the president and Congress should be prioritized for “updating our infrastructure.”
    Trotter, who supports a “big, broad package,” said the AFL-CIO is open to different types of funding mechanisms. The gas tax no longer produces enough revenue to maintain the current infrastructure let alone bring it up to 21st century standards, he said.
   “As far as funding, labor has and will continue to consider all funding sources,” Trotter said. “There’s just no way of hiding the fact that solving our nation’s vast infrastructure needs will require major levels of public investment.”
   The Democratic leaders’ letter also said the infrastructure package must include “clean energy and resiliency priorities” and have “strong Buy America, labor and women, veteran and minority-owned business protections.”