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Senate Dems Offer New $1 Trillion 10 Year Infrastructure Plan

On January 24, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) unveiled his party’s approach to enhance infrastructure funding for roads, bridges, waterways, and airports.  Joined at the podium by fellow ranking members of key Senate Committees – Sens. Tom Carper (DE), Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders (VT), Bill Nelson (FL) and Maria Cantwell (WA) – Schumer shared A Blueprint to Rebuild America’s Infrastructure.
As Schumer described, the ten year, trillion dollar Blueprint would significantly increase funding for existing infrastructure needs.  The plan expects to rely on major increases in Federal funding and new and existing grant programs to achieve a broad range of infrastructure improvements.
For state drinking water programs, the highlights are:

  • The DWSRF would see significant but unspecified funding increases
  • Water projects could see grants rather than loans
  • State and local loan match requirements would decrease
  • Buy American and Davis Bacon provisions would prevail for all infrastructure projects
  • WIFIA funding would increase
  • A new Resilient Communities Revolving Fund would be created to address natural disasters
  • A new I-Bank infrastructure finance entity would be created using $10B in seed money to join programs like WIFIA, TIFIA, and other financing initiatives.

It remains to be seen how this proposal will look when measured against the anticipated Trump infrastructure plan that has yet to be released.
Download the complete BlueprintAdditionally, ASDWA has excerpted some of the Blueprint’s drinking water-related discussions to provide you with greater detail.
“The Senate Democrats’ “Blueprint to Rebuild America’s Infrastructure” would make a historic $1 trillion federal investment to modernize our crumbling infrastructure and create more than 15 million jobs that our economy desperately needs.  Instead of undermining American workers, we will adhere to basic principles that should govern all federal infrastructure spending:

  • Buy America provisions to rebuild America with American products
  • Strong protections for working men and women, like Davis-Bacon prevailing wages
  • Strengthened participation of minority- and women-owned businesses
  • Accelerated project delivery while adhering to important environmental protections”

The Blueprint includes sixteen areas for investment:  Reconstruct Roads & Bridges ($100B); Improve Airports ($30B); Revitalize Main Street ($100B); Address Ports & Waterways ($10B); Expand TIGER ($10B); Build Resilient Communities ($25B); Rehabilitate Water and Sewer ($110B); 21st Century Energy Infrastructure $100B; Modernize Rail Infrastructure $50B); Expand Broadband $20B); Repair & Expand Transit ($130B}; Invest in Public Lands & Tribal Infrastructure ($20B); Vital Infrastructure Program ($200B); Modernize VA Hospitals ($10B); Rebuild Public Schools ($75B); and Provide Innovative Financing Tools ($10B).
Three of the areas of focus – $110 Billion to Rehabilitate Water and Sewer; $25 Billion to Build More Resilient Communities (within Modernizing Americas, Ports, Airports, and Waterways); and $10 Billion to Provide Innovative Financing Tools – are of particular interest to state drinking water programs.  Here are the Blueprint’s proposed solutions for those issues:
Water and Sewer: “We will make major investments in the Clean Water and the Drinking Water state revolving funds, and USDA water programs, to address the growing backlog of water and sewer projects. We will also give States new flexibility to provide communities with more grants rather than loans. This will unlock thousands of new water and sewer infrastructure projects without burdening local ratepayers. In addition, we propose decreasing the local matching funds required of states and local governments who simply cannot afford to take on more debt. Finally, we will increase funding for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program that provides federal loans to support large-scale water infrastructure projects with national and regional significance. “
Building More Resilient Communities: “To help communities better prepare for disasters, we will invest $25 billion to support three individual resiliency programs. The federal funding will be used to (1) support a critical infrastructure resiliency competition; (2) support a new Resilient Communities Revolving Loan Fund; and (3) to support the National Oceans and Coastal Security Fund that supports projects that raise or relocate coastal infrastructure at risk of flooding, and promotes smart coastal development. These three programs will provide high-risk communities with the tools to prepare, prevent, and recover from future disasters in order to minimize the cost of recovery from future events.”
Innovative Financing Tools: “To leverage additional funding and help drive greater investment into our nation’s infrastructure, we will invest in a new infrastructure finance entity, like an ‘I-Bank’, that would unlock pools of capital to provide low-cost loans or loan guarantees for appropriate projects across a broad range of sectors, including transportation, energy, affordable housing, and water infrastructure. It’s estimated that the creation of such a fund with $10 billion in seed money could leverage over $100 billion in private investment over 10 years for infrastructure projects. In addition, we propose protecting and strengthening the existing financing programs available under USDOT and other agencies, including the Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing (RRIF) program, the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA), and EPA’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA). These traditional financing programs have been critical tools in advancing a number of projects across the country. All projects must abide by federal prevailing wage requirements, environmental rules, ‘Buy America’ provisions and other requirements that would apply to a federally-assisted project within a particular infrastructure sector.”