U.S. officials of both parties in talks on infrastructure spending - Metro US

U.S. officials of both parties in talks on infrastructure spending

By Ginger Gibson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A bipartisan group of senators met with administration officials on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of generating a $1 trillion infrastructure bill, a legislative goal that President Donald Trump said he would like to achieve as soon as possible.

Passing an infrastructure bill in the Republican-controlled Congress will likely require Democratic support in the Senate. Some Democrats have expressed a desire to see a bill passed, but congressional elections in November could make the politics of a bipartisan effort more difficult.

Congress will be forced to find a way to fund an expensive infrastructure package, a point that could cause both Democrats and Republicans to oppose the legislation.

Many Republicans want to use private investments to finance infrastructure projects to avoid increasing the national debt. Democrats, however, think that government money is necessary to produce such a large package.

Trump, who spoke frequently about improving infrastructure in the United States during his 2016 election campaign, earlier on Tuesday in a separate meeting on immigration policy stated his desire to see an infrastructure package passed quickly.

“The Trump Administration looks forward to working with all members of Congress who want to join us in rebuilding America,” a White House official said.

Senator John Barrasso, who chairs the committee that would oversee an infrastructure bill, said the meeting was an opportunity for the administration to explain its priorities.

“The meeting gave senators the chance to have a direct back-and-forth with administration leadership on their priorities,” Barrasso said in a statement.

The meeting included a bipartisan group of members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee; Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao; Gary Cohn, director of the White House National Economic Council; and DJ Gribbin, special assistant to the president for infrastructure policy.

(Reporting by Ginger Gibson and Jeff Mason; editing by Damon Darlin and Grant McCool)

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