Editorial: What kind of infrastructure bill might pass a divided congress?

In the wake of the November 6th election results, there is renewed talk of a national infrastructure bill. The day after the election, likely House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D, CA) announced that major infrastructure legislation will be high on the Democrats’ 2019 agenda. She was seconded by the expected chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D, OR), who said he is working on a $500 billion infrastructure proposal.

Any such measure must contend with two key background factors. First, the increased Republican majority in the Senate. Second, the strong support at U.S. DOT for the ideas presented in the White House infrastructure proposal released back in February. That proposal, while including some new federal spending ($200 billion over 10 years) focused much of its attention on providing incentives for state and local governments to come up with additional revenues to support rebuilding their aging infrastructure and adding new capacity where needed. Such measures include incentive grants, reforms to make it easier for infrastructure owners to use long-term public-private partnerships (P3s), and a relatively new concept called “asset recycling.”