Despite promising to revitalize American infrastructure, President Trump is proposing a budget that would cut infrastructure improvements.
Other cuts in the budget have been covered extensively, like the 31 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency and the proposed elimination of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, and severe cuts to State Department programs. But the White House’s proposal to make deep cuts to American infrastructure improvements have gone relatively unnoticed.
The latest budget outline proposed by the Trump White House would slash funding for the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) by 13 percent, or $2.4 billion, which would eliminate all previously appropriated funding for long-distance Amtrak trains and slash funding for other highway repair projects. The USDOT would be operating with a paper-thin $16.2 billion budget for fiscal year 2018 under the proposal.
“The Budget reduces or eliminates programs that are either inefficient, duplicative of other Federal efforts, or that involve activities that are better delivered by States, localities, or the private sector,” the White House said in statement defending the cuts.
In addition to the Amtrak cuts, the Trump budget outline would also gut the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program, which former President Barack Obama set up as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Even Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao — wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) — defended the TIGER grants during her confirmation hearing.
“From all of my meetings with members of Congress there seems to be one area of great agreement and that’s the utility of the TIGER grants,” Chao said in a response to a question from Senator Maggie Hassan (D-New Hampshire).
While on the campaign trail, Trump promised to rebuild American infrastructure by investing $1 trillion in new upgrades and rebuilding projects. He even reiterated that promise in his joint address to Congress last month.
“To launch our national rebuilding, I will be asking the Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion investment in the infrastructure of the United States — financed through both public and private capital — creating millions of new jobs.”
The American Society of Civil Engineers recently gave America’s infrastructure a grade of D+ in its 2017 infrastructure report card.
Kevin Wallace is a journalist with five years’ experience in print and digital media, and covers politics, media, and culture for the Resistance Report. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida.