Trump Promises To Slash Regulations In Infrastructure Bill
President Donald Trump announced plans Friday to shake up the bureaucratic red tape that he believes stands in the way of efforts to modernize America’s infrastructure.
In his speech at the Department of Transportation, Trump promised that he will include “massive permit reform” in his $1 trillion infrastructure package in an effort to reduce hurdles in the construction approval process, which he credits with delaying efforts to revitalize America’s aging infrastructure.
Trump said that the “painfully slow, costly and time-consuming process for getting permits and approvals to build,” is “one of the biggest obstacles to creating this new and desperately-needed infrastructure.”
While much of his speech echoed long-espoused themes such as using American labor and steel on construction projects, Trump revealed some new details related to his infrastructure bill, including the development of a council designed to help project managers navigate federal bureaucracies.
“This council will also improve transparency by creating a new online dashboard allowing everyone to easily track major projects through every stage of the approval process,” Trump said.
He added that any federal agency that “consistently delays projects by missing deadlines will face tough, new penalties. We will hold the bureaucracy accountable.”
Trump resorted to displaying a number of props to illustrate the chaotic maze of bureaucratic red tape that building managers are forced to navigate to gain construction approval.
“These charts beside me are actually a simplified version of our highway permitting process. It includes 16 different approvals involving 10 different federal agencies being governed by 26 different statutes,” Trump said.
Trump also displayed three large binders containing an environmental report for an 18-mile Maryland highway project. He said the report weighed 70 pounds and cost $29 million to produce, adding that state transportation officials showed him the $24,000 per page report shortly before his speech.
“These binders on this stage could be replaced by just a few simple pages, and it would be just as good,” Trump said. “It would actually be much better, because these binders also make you do unnecessary things that cost billions and billions of dollars, and they actually make it worse.”
Trump’s Friday speech capped off the White House’s self proclaimed “infrastructure week,” which was largely overshadowed by former FBI director James Comey’s testimony Thursday.
Democratic Reps. Peter DeFazio of Oregon and Eleanor Holmes Norton of Washington, D.C. sent a letter to the Trump administration criticizing the infrastructure bill for its emphasis on streamlining the environmental review process.
“We urge you to seriously consider … proposals to add real revenues for infrastructure investment, and reject efforts that primarily or exclusively consist of measures designed to streamline the environmental review process,” they wrote in the June letter. “We stand ready to work with you to promote sustainable funding solutions that will help rebuild our nation’s infrastructure.”
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