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Industry Supports Trump on Infrastructure

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

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With the contentious 2016 election behind them, U.S. transportation associations are looking ahead to what the future holds for infrastructure and other construction projects under President-elect Donald Trump’s administration.

Various reports have outlined what Trump’s Nov. 8 victory over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton might mean in terms of construction industry-related spending, immigration policies and environmental regulations, and several industry groups have issued statements in the wake of the election results.

Trump Pence official photo
By Presidential transition of Donald Trump website / CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

On the campaign trail, President-elect Donald Trump pledged that if elected, he would spend $1 trillion on a variety of infrastructure projects.

“We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools and hospitals,” Trump said in a post-election speech early Wednesday (Nov. 9). “We’re going to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none. And we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it.”

On the campaign trail, the Republican pledged that if elected, he would spend $1 trillion on a variety of infrastructure projects. For example, in his plan for the first 100 days in office, Trump said he would work with Congress to introduce legislation to fund the construction of a wall at the Southern border of the U.S. (with a provision that Mexico would reimburse the U.S.).

Several broad-stroke elements of his plan to “[t]ransform America’s crumbling infrastructure into a golden opportunity for accelerated economic growth” are outlined on the Infrastructure page of his campaign website.

Among the key goals his campaign highlighted, Trump said he plans to:

  • Refocus government spending on American infrastructure and away from the Obama-Clinton globalization agenda;
  • Create thousands of new jobs in construction, steel manufacturing, and other sectors to build the transportation, water, telecommunications and energy infrastructure needed to enable new economic development in the U.S., all of which will generate new tax revenues;
     
  • Harness market forces to help attract new private infrastructure investments through a deficit-neutral system of infrastructure tax credits;
     
  • Implement a bold, visionary plan for a cost-effective system of roads, bridges, tunnels, airports, railroads, ports and waterways, and pipelines in the proud tradition of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who championed the interstate highway system;
  • Leverage new revenues and work with financing authorities, public-private partnerships, and other prudent funding opportunities; and
  • Employ incentive-based contracting to ensure projects are on time and on budget.

Industry at the Ready

In the weeks leading up to the election, representatives from industry associations were reportedly actively meeting with the transition teams for both campaign's regarding their infrastructure plans.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) offered its expertise to help transition teams develop detailed project and funding plans, the association said Thursday (Nov. 10).

White House
© iStock.com / nojustice

Analysts expect Trump could repeal a number of regulatory measures put in place by the Obama administration, including the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Rule.

Because both leading presidential candidates had only “vague plans for what they intend to do,” AASHTO Executive Director Bud Wright said his group would like to “help them think through their plans a little more closely, actually develop a specific plan for how they might proceed, and certainly emphasize the importance of honoring their commitment to invest in infrastructure.”

Wright also encouraged that their plans for investment in infrastructure should go beyond a “one-time effort.” Instead, he said, "we really need to find a way to provide sustainable funding for a long time into the future" so states can rely on a revenue stream from federal programs.

He added that AASHTO would also be available to help transportation program officials develop plans that look beyond the first 100 days of the next administration, to consider transportation program needs throughout a presidential term.  

The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) issued a statement on Wednesday (Nov. 9) supporting Trump’s vision for tackling the nation’s infrastructure and urging Republicans in Congress to follow his lead to make the much-needed infrastructure improvements a priority early next year.

“President-elect Trump will have a ‘can do’ industry as his partner in rebuilding and expanding the nation’s transportation infrastructure to make it again second to none,” said President & CEO Pete Ruane.

“Give us the proper resources and the new jobs and innovative solutions will take off," he added.

concrete bridge construction
© iStock.com / Dan Cardiff

According to Trump's infrastructure platform, he intends to create thousands of new jobs in construction, steel manufacturing, and other sectors to build the transportation, water, telecommunications and energy infrastructure.

“Despite a highly partisan political environment, Republicans and Democrats have routinely worked in a bipartisan manner to support infrastructure legislation,” Ruane said.

“All sides should view a long-term infrastructure package as an opportunity for the two parties to come together and make meaningful progress for the American people.”

American Public Transportation Association (APTA) also issued a statement on from APTA Chair Doran J. Barnes and APTA Acting President & CEO Richard A. White congratulating Trump and Mike Pence on the victory following the election on behalf of its members and public transportation riders.

“President-Elect Trump spoke of the need for increased infrastructure investment during his campaign and APTA is grateful to have had the opportunity to share its perspective and expertise with the transition team in recent months,” the statement read.

“APTA members stand ready to build on this work with President-elect Trump and Vice President-elect Pence on revitalizing our economy and creating jobs through greater federal investment in infrastructure.”  

According to the APTA, public transportation remains vital to economic prosperity and competitiveness. As almost 60 percent of public transportation travel is used for commutes to work, the group believes a significant portion of Trump’s infrastructure proposal should be dedicated to public transportation.
 
“The U.S. public transportation industry looks forward to working with President-elect Trump and Vice President-elect Pence in moving our country forward with public transportation infrastructure investment,” it added.

Associated Builders and Contractors Response

The election results actually drove a rally in construction-related stocks Wednesday, according to The Wall Street Journal, despite concerns regarding specific funding plans and priorities.

Officials from the Associated Builders and Contractors also said they looked forward to working with the President-elect and Vice President-elect to “craft policies rooted in free enterprise that will encourage open competition and result in greater business investment and more construction jobs.”

ABC CEO Michael Bellaman
Associated Builders and Contractors

Associated Builders and Contractors President and CEO Michael Bellaman said Trump  "is very familiar with obstacles to economic growth ABC members face."

ABC President and CEO Michael Bellaman said, “With his background in real estate and development, Trump is very familiar with obstacles to economic growth ABC members face, including our broken regulatory system, the increasingly difficult challenge of finding affordable health care coverage for employees, a growing shortage of appropriately skilled labor and the highest effective tax rate of any industry.”

“We are hopeful that Trump will select judicial nominees that respect the traditional principles of separation of powers, and we urge his administration to implement policies that guarantee a fair and level playing field for all contractors, regardless of labor affiliation, such as prohibiting the government from mandating discriminatory project labor agreements.”

'Blacklist' Future Questioned

ABC filed suit in October to block the Obama Administration's Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Rule, nicknamed the "blacklist rule" by critics, which would subject federal contractors seeking jobs worth $500,000 or more to increased scrutiny regarding labor and safety violations. Some experts believe Trump is likely to repeal the rule, which was at least temporarily blocked by an injunction from a federal judge last month.

It is "fair to assume that Trump will be inclined to repeal a host of executive orders supporting unions at the expense of federal contracts, including the so-called ‘blacklisting’ order and other provisions that impose contractual obligations on successor employers doing business with the federal government,” labor attorney Steve Bernstein told Employee Benefit News.

A similar rule was imposed on federal contractors by President Bill Clinton in 2000 but repealed in 2001 by President George W. Bush.

Also up for possible repeal, according to analysts, are: the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's pending electronic reporting rule; OSHA's planned annual fine increases; and the controversial new overtime rule.

For more discussion of policies and statements from others in the construction industry, see Engineering News Record’s report “Trump’s Big Win: Less Regulation, More Infrastructure.”

   

Tagged categories: AASHTO; American Public Transportation Association (APTA); American Road & Trans Builders Assn (ARTBA); Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. (ABC); Construction; Economy; Government; Infrastructure; North America; OSHA; Program/Project Management; Public Transit; Regulations; Transportation

Comment from Lloyd Stanley, (1/17/2017, 3:47 PM)

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