Vice President Pence on Friday promised a gathering of the nation’s governors that Congress would pass a “historic” infrastructure bill by next year, an action that would require bipartisan cooperation to make good on a stalled agenda item of President Trump.
“I’ll make you a promise. And we’ll ask for your help. That in this Congress we’re going to pass historic infrastructure legislation,” Pence said at a luncheon hosted at his official residence in Washington.
Trump, who campaigned on addressing the nation’s aging infrastructure, unveiled a long-awaited plan a year ago that received a cool reception from members of both parties, who said the president had not presented a viable way to pay for it.
The plan was designed to spur $1.5 trillion in new spending on infrastructure over the coming decade but relied heavily on states, localities and the private sector to cover the costs of new roads, bridges, waterways and other public works projects.
The reception from governors last year was lukewarm, given how much of the cost they were being asked to foot.
A separate plan released by Senate Democrats would have relied far more heavily on direct federal government spending than Trump’s plan, which included $200 billion in federal spending with the aim of enticing several times that amount from other levels of government.
Pence told the governors Friday that new legislation is already being discussed with congressional leaders from both parties, and that governors would play a leading role in crafting a bill. Since states will be deploying resources, Pence said, “we need your voices at the table about what those needs are.”
The nation’s governors are in Washington for an annual meeting of the National Governors Association. More than 30 of them, from both parties, attended Pence’s luncheon, according to a list provided by the vice president’s office.
As Democrats prepared to take control of the House this year, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) identified infrastructure as an issue on which her party possibly could work with Trump. Democrats have long advocated spending on public works projects as a means to create jobs.
Both Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) have said any deal cut with Trump to rebuild ailing infrastructure must include provisions intended to promote clean energy and combat climate change.