Jim Burnley discusses Senate Democrats' $1 trillion infrastructure proposal with Law360 and Logistics Management

2 min

Law360 and Logistics Management interviewed Venable partner Jim Burnley in January 26, 2017, articles on Senate Democrats' proposal for $1 trillion in infrastructure spending. The ten year plan, called "Blueprint to Rebuild America's Infrastructure," mirrors proposals put out by President Donald Trump during the campaign with a focus on rebuilding and repairing urban and rural roads, bridges, waterways, sewers, airports, and other infrastructure.

"It's an opening offer," Burnley told Law360. "That's the best way to look at it. It's extremely expansive in what is included in their definition of infrastructure, like [Veterans Administration] hospitals, schools and broadband. Those are not items that have commonly been accepted as infrastructure. They are staking out their initial position, but no one knows how this will play out." He added, "The Dems are getting their marker down with their initial positions, and it'll take a while to play out, probably the whole year, I would think…There is no funding in their proposal; they didn't attempt to address funding. Both Ryan and McConnell have said they want to see offsets for any new infrastructure spending such as cuts in other programs, increased revenues or a combination of the two. So that's an issue to be addressed."

Burnley echoed his earlier comments about the proposal being an "opening offer" with an "incredibly broad" definition of infrastructure in an interview with Logistics Management. He predicted the proposal would be on hold until senior leadership is installed at the Department of Transportation and Office of Management and Budget. "Then you will see things move fairly quickly in terms of R's putting together their own proposal, which, I suspect, will include tax credits, but I would not expect that they feel obligated to stick to that exact number ($137 billion in tax credits to infrastructure investors) and it may well be part of a tax reform bill or there may be two distinct packages that overlap with respect to tax packages like tax credits for infrastructure," he explained. "There are a number of paths that they may go down." He also said it was unlikely the federal gas tax would be increased to help cover current funding gaps.