May 16, 2017 - 9:00am

Secretary Chao Outlines Trump's Infrastructure Vision


Senior Editor, Digital Content

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Infrastructure Week 2017 kickoff event at the U.S. Chamber, featuring Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
Infrastructure Week 2017 kickoff event at the U.S. Chamber, featuring Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao speaks at the Infrastructure Week kickoff event at the U.S. Chamber.

The U.S. Chamber was the starting line for a week-long, advocacy effort to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, highlighted by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

“We’ve got to make the most of this moment. And it starts right here and right now—and with each of you,” declared Suzanne Clark, senior executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, at the kick-off to Infrastructure Week. The event at the U.S. Chamber was one of 100 events across the country gathering business, unions, government, and non-profits to rally support around infrastructure investment.

A U.S. Chamber survey conducted by Morning Consult poll found 73% of voters want the federal government to the lead in rebuilding transportation infrastructure.

U.S. Chamber president and CEO Tom Donohue laid out three priorities for a legislative package.

First, it has to “support our nation’s long-term growth and competitiveness.”  Second, a broad toolkit of private and public funding must be created. “The bottom line is that we can’t make the dash without the cash,” he quipped. Third, reforms are needed to ensure the right projects are done in a timely, cost-effective manner.

In her keynote, Secretary Chao noted that our infrastructure “is a key factor in productivity and economic growth, which has provided millions of hard working Americans with a standard of living that is the envy of the world.  And it has provided our country with unprecedented mobility, safety and security.” However, investing in it has been lax over the last decades.

The latest American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Infrastructure Report Card graded our nation's system a D+ grade overall.

Nevertheless, President Donald Trump “has made revitalizing, repairing and rebuilding our country’s infrastructure one of his top priorities,” Chao told the audience.

In sketching out the administration’s upcoming infrastructure plan, Chao said the administration is prepared to include $200 billion in direct federal funds. “These funds will be used to leverage $1 trillion in infrastructure investment over ten years,” she said.

Chao also underscored the need for cutting red tape out of approving needed projects.  “Another key part of this administration’s infrastructure plan will include common-sense regulatory, administrative, organizational, and policy changes to speed project delivery and reduce uncertainty,” she said.

The time is right for considerable, pro-growth infrastructure improvements. “In short, the public knows that infrastructure is important, and that it’s worth it. And with the political stars aligning, long-term strategic investment in rebuilding our country is now also possible,” Clark said.

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About the Author

Sean Hackbarth standing in front of oil pumps near Baker, Montana.
Senior Editor, Digital Content

Sean has written for various Chamber properties since 2012. In 1999, Sean launched a “weblog” and never looked back, becoming a self-proclaimed pioneer of the medium.