November 7, 2018
President Trump today extended an olive branch to Democrats who last night took control of the House of Representatives, saying he is willing to collaborate on issues of common interest such as infrastructure investment.
However, Trump warned that if Democrats insist on spending the next two years investigating him and his Administration, little policy progress will be made because both tracks can’t be pursued at the same time. “You can do one or the other, but not both,” he said.
At a press conference in Washington, Trump highlighted infrastructure, a huge component of which is surface transportation, as an area of common interest in the 116th Congress. He added that the GOP’s gains in the Senate last night could make it easier to enact bipartisan legislation because Senate passage will not hinge on the votes of one or two Senators. As of this afternoon, Republicans held a 53-45 majority in the Senate, with the remaining two being independents.
The next two years will not only see the chance of stepped up infrastructure activity but the expiration on Sept. 30, 2020 of the five-year federal transport funding law known as the FAST Act. Because of the expected year-long demands of the 2020 presidential election cycle, it is unlikely Congress and the White House would have beyond the end of 2019 to complete work on one or both issues, according to Elaine Nessle, executive director of the Coalition of America’s Gateways and Corridors, a public-private sector coalition that advocates for intermodal funding.
Because of the timing, Nessle said expectations for a massive infrastructure bill may have to be scaled back. In return, Congress could push for expedited action on the FAST act reauthorization, she added. The other option is for lawmakers to pass short-term funding bills to keep money flowing into projects, a step they have taken many times in the past.
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