WASHINGTON -- The $10 billion increase in infrastructure spending in the 2018 omnibus spending bill signed into law Friday by President Trump differs from his administration’s vision.
Trump said he signed the omnibus “as a matter of national security” while vowing to never sign another, promising to “bring down” the $1.3 trillion in overall funding in the future.
“There are a lot of things that I’m unhappy about in this bill,” Trump said without providing details. “There are a lot of things that we shouldn’t have had in this bill but we were in a sense forced if we wanted to build our military we were forced to have.”
The president urged both chambers of Congress to give him line-item veto authority and repeated his request for the Senate to end the filibuster rule that requires a 60-vote supermajority.
Many of the infrastructure programs that Congress added money for were targeted by the administration to be zeroed out, including the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grants program, which gets $2.6 billion.
Highway Trust Fund spending will increase by $1 billion to $45 billion and discretionary highway funding will increase another $2.5 billion above the 2017 spending levels.
In addition, Community Development Block Grants will increase by $300 million compared to 2017 to $3.3 billion and the HOME Investment Partnerships Program will increase by $412 million to $1.4 billion.
“Congress made it very clear that there are some programs that they believe in and that they think are working,” said Brittney Kohler, program director for transportation and infrastructure at the National League of Cities.
The National Governors Association issued a statement Friday commending Congress for “a renewed emphasis on investing in our nation’s infrastructure.”
President Trump’s infrastructure plan calls for $200 billion in spending over 10 years but hasn’t identified the source of funding.
The two-year budget deal Congress agreed to last month called for higher spending in both defense and discretionary non-defense accounts, including $10 billion more in the current 2018 fiscal year and another $10 billion in the 2019 fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.
“The increased spending in the omnibus represents a commitment by Congress to our long-standing intergovernmental partnership as it relates to this important issue,” said NGA spokesperson Sylvana Dussan. “The nation’s governors look forward, to continuing to work with Congress as it develops a long-term multi-year strategy for future infrastructure investment.”
The NLC said it considered the $10 billion in the omnibus as a down payment.
“It is $10 billion that would go to existing infrastructure-related programs which is great for us because those are programs that have already proven to be successful,” said Irma Esparza-Diggs, senior executive for federal advocacy at the NLC.
“We’re hopeful that this will keep the ball moving toward coming up with a solution to dedicated funding for a comprehensive infrastructure package,” Esparza-Diggs said.
Transit infrastructure grants were increased $834 million, said Esparza-Diggs, including $400 for communities to modernize their bus systems.
“Public transit is a key to keep the workforce moving so that in and of itself is a huge thing for metropolitan areas that are working to keep communities connected and the workforce moving,” she said.
Two other programs important to local governments are the Clean Water and Drinking Water state revolving funds, each of which are getting a $300 million increase.
“It’s not everything that’s needed,” Esparza-Diggs said. "You know, $10 billion is what one city could use to meet its infrastructure needs depending on the size of the city. So while the money that has been dedicated for each program is not enough to address the issues across the country, it is enough to provide relief to those cities most in need with extreme deficiencies and to be able to build upon moving forward.”