Trump Loved Talking About Infrastructure. When Will He Actually Get to Work?

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

The Trump administration has a lot of irons in the fire these days.

Some you can’t plan for: you’ve got your natural disasters and your man-made ones.

And some you can (and should probably avoid).

But here’s one iron that’s just, you know, off to the side and cooling off: An infrastructure plan.

President Trump’s vaunted, $1 trillion infrastructure bill has been sidetracked. There are still no details from the White House, and Congress is instead working on a big tax reform package. Tax reform, you’ve no doubt heard, is really hard to do, so that means it could take a while for Washington to clear it’s agenda. It’s even been suggested that Republican legislators (who control both the House and Senate) may even take another whack at the Affordable Care Act before turning to a funding package for the nation’s rails, roads and bridges.

Suffice to say: Infrastructure isn’t high on anyone’s agenda – at least not on the agendas of anyone in a position of power in Washington. And the president, who at this point seems to be more of a go-with-your-gut guy, has even questioned a central tenet of his own plan – that it would be built around a public-private partnership funding mechanism.

That means they’re going to have to build this thing from scratch, while Republicans on the Hill wait for an outline of the administration’s plans. They think maybe they’ll get one next week.

"We hope they're going to make it public in the next week or so," Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said this week. "It will be more of an outline or principles."

It’s quite clear that infrastructure spending (if it’s got Buy America rules attached to it) can really boost American manufacturing employment. And it’s disappointing President Trump – who campaigned hard on manufacturing issues – would attach such little importance to getting an infrastructure bill passed.

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Reposted from AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Freight can’t wait

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities.

A freight train hauling lumber and nylon manufacturing chemicals derailed, caught fire and caused a 108-year-old bridge to collapse in Tempe, Ariz., this week, in the second accident on the same bridge within a month.

The bridge was damaged after the first incident, according to Union Pacific railroad that owns the rail bridge, and re-opened two days later. 

The official cause of the derailments is still under investigation, but it remains clear that the failure to modernize and maintain America’s railroad infrastructure is dangerous. 

In 2019, 499 trains that derailed were found to have defective or broken track, roadbed or structures, according to the Federal Railroad Administration’s database of safety analysis.

While railroad workers’ unions have called for increased safety improvements, rail companies have also used technology and automation as an excuse to downsize their work forces.

For example, rail companies have implemented a cost-saving measure known as Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR), which has resulted in mass layoffs and shoddy safety protocols. 

Though privately-owned railroads have spent significantly to upgrade large, Class I trains, regional Class II trains and local, short-line Class III trains that carry important goods for farmers and businesses still rely on state and local funds for improvements. 

But cash-strapped states struggle to adequately inspect new technologies and fund safety improvements, and repairing or replacing the aging track and rail bridges will require significant public investment.

A true infrastructure commitment will not only strengthen the country’s railroad networks and increase U.S. global economic competitiveness. It will also create millions of family-sustaining jobs needed to inspect, repair and manufacture new parts for mass transit systems, all while helping to prevent future disasters.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work