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Senate Democrats unveiled a $1 trillion infrastructure bill Tuesday that they say will create 15 million jobs -- and they challenged President Donald Trump to work with them to pass it.
Trump often touted the need to repair the country's infrastructure on the campaign trail and has continued to since the election, mentioning it in his inaugural address last week when he pledged to "build new roads and highways and bridges and airports and tunnels and railways all across our wonderful nation."
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Democrats have released their plan ahead of a Trump proposal in order to pressure him to stick to his campaign promises. It's also an attempt to drive a wedge between Trump and Republicans who are ideologically skeptical of a large infrastructure spending measures. Republicans successfully defeated a major infrastructure bill during the first term of former President Barack Obama’s administration and have not enthusiastically embraced Trump's focus on it yet.
“We’re challenging him here today,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said during a news conference. “Now that we’ve been stymied by our Republican colleagues … now we have a president elect (sic) who has called for a large infrastructure bill.”
Trump has said infrastructure is one of his top priorities, even laying out a broad proposal during his transition. But with any major spending bill on Congress, the way it is paid for or financed often exposes deep divisions.
Schumer wouldn’t say how he would pay for it but suggested that one idea is to close tax loopholes or rely on the generation of revenue through job creation.
He dismissed any proposal to cut domestic spending as well as Trump’s plan that relies on financing through tax incentives and public-private partnerships.
“We don’t want all the benefits going to developers and wealthy people,” Schumer said. “How we will pay for it we will discuss with President Trump.”
The Democrats’ plan is wide-ranging, including $210 billion for roads and bridges, $180 billion for rail and bus programs and $110 billion for sewer and water. Another $10 billion would go for VA refurbishing and $75 billion for school infrastructure.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he hopes any plan is “credibly paid for.”
“I don't think we ought to borrow almost a trillion dollars and plus up a bunch of federal accounts, incur a lot of additional debt, and don't build any projects to speak of. So, I can tell you what I'm against is a replication of the Obama stimulus package in 2009,” McConnell said.
Trump’s team says their plan, which gives few details, would be deficit neutral, but economists have come out saying that it would not.
Schumer said he has spoken with Trump already about infrastructure, including in a meeting last night with the president. He said he warned Trump that if he wanted a big infrastructure bill then he’s going to have to
“I told him repeatedly if you wanna do a bill like this you’re gonna have to tell a lot of your Republicans particularly on the right wing they’re not going to get their way and he acknowledged that,” Schumer said. “So we’ll see what happens.”