The Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) will meet with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to discuss an infrastructure package, saying he is hopeful about working with the White House on this important legislation following the passage of the bi-partisan trade deal.
Neal told reporters in his home state of Massachusetts that he plans to meet with Mnuchin next week when he returns to Washington.
“We need to agree on some numbers and proceed on the basis that the country badly needs it, and I think that it is doable,” Neal said, according to the State House News Service.
Neal was optimistic that there is bipartisan support for improving the nation’s infrastructure. He said passing of the USMCA trade deal showed him the House and Senate can get something done.
“I think big things can get done in election years,” Neal said. “This is one of those issues that’s interesting because the president needs it and we want it.”
In order to craft legislation that would best meet the needs of U.S. cities’ infrastructure, the Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing, “Paving the Way for Funding and Financing Infrastructure Investments,” on Jan. 29.
The committee will be hearing from witnesses who can give the members insight into the current condition of U.S. infrastructure.
At a 2019 hearing, Mnuchin told members of the committee that he is fully committed to the passage of the Trump administration’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan.
Mnuchin, like Neal, emphasized bipartisanship.
“I look forward to working with Chairman Neal and the committee on a bipartisan basis,” Mnuchin told the House Ways and Means Committee, adding that the goal is to pass the ambitious building plan “this year.”
Trump’s long-term infrastructure plan would depend mostly on private investments, as well as local and state governments, to provide a lion’s share of the funding, with 200 billion of the $1.5 trillion earmarked by the administration to pay for infrastructure in the short term.
“We’re going to sit down on a bipartisan basis and we’ll see what we can agree on,” Mnuchin told the committee. “This has to be a combination of the administration, the House, and the Senate … and see what we can get done. Everyone has got the same objective, we want to make infrastructure investments.”
The White House said in an infrastructure budget summary, “The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to develop a package that will significantly improve the Nation’s infrastructure, and the Budget includes $200 billion towards this effort.”
It added that much of America’s infrastructure is in “urgent need of repair, expansion, and modernization.” America’s overall infrastructure was ranked 9th by the World Economic Forum and 11th for the quality of its roads.
Beginning in the 1980s, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) compiled regular summaries of the condition of U.S. infrastructure. In its 2017 report, the ASCE found that the nation’s infrastructure averages a “D,” meaning that conditions are exhibiting deterioration, with a “strong risk of failure.” They estimate that about $1.5 trillion is needed by 2025 to bring the nation’s infrastructure up to standard.