The future of President Trump’s infrastructure plan may depend on whether the GOP enacts major tax reform — a task that could prove challenging considering the recent challenge of trying to pass a healthcare bill.
Republicans are signalling that major infrastructure package will likely have to wait until lawmakers overhaul the tax code.
“I’d like to see infrastructure get done,” Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the Senate’s No. 3 Republican and chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, told reporters Wednesday. “But I’ve always said, that in terms of how things are sequenced, it’s more likely that they would do tax reform first. And that might push infrastructure into sometime next year.”
Since their effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare stalled in the Senate, Congressional Republicans are said to be considering their next steps. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the GOP would now be moving on “to comprehensive tax reform and to infrastructure,” though he is still pushing toward a healthcare vote next week.
However the GOP isn’t ready with legislation for either tax reform or infrastructure. Trump released a one-page outline on tax reform earlier this year and an infrastructure proposal is expected to be released this fall. They also dropped clues about the bill during an “Infrastructure Week” initiative at the White House.
Trump’s push to upgrade U.S. roads, bridges and other public works is thought of as one of the few potential areas that could attract Democratic support.
Even with bipartisan interest and steady progress on the infrastructure proposal, there seems to be growing consensus — even among transportation advocates in Congress — that tax reform will come first.
Some of the potential funding options that have been mentioned include charging fees based on the number of miles a vehicle travels and using the tax revenue from corporate earnings stored overseas when it returns to the U.S.
“[Infrastructure] is obviously one of the things teed up and possible to move on, but we’ve also got a tax bill out there, too,” said Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit. “We need that tax bill before we do infrastructure, because some of the pay-fors are in that.”