President Trump will use his State of the Union address on Tuesday to make another push for his infrastructure plan, a key part of the speech’s theme of “building a safe, strong and proud America.”
Trump told a group of mayors last week that the actual infrastructure plan would be released soon after the speech on Tuesday. He also said the plan would result in investment of $1.7 trillion in infrastructure, up from the $1 trillion the administration was originally discussing.
Among the key missing details is how much funding would come from the federal government.
In the address to a joint session of Congress, Trump will be talking about “how we’re going to do it right and how we’re going to do it fast,” a senior administration official said.
Trump will be seeking to reach across party lines with his speech, and infrastructure “is certainly something the president believes has large bipartisan support.”
A leaked draft of the administration plan confirmed what Agri-Pulse reported last fall that 25 percent of the total funding in the plan would be devoted to rural areas, which the plan defined as areas with less than 50,000 population. According to the plan, 80 percent of the funds would be given to states to spend, and 20 percent would be saved for “rural performance grants.”
Trump also will be promoting the new business and individual tax cuts and talking up his trade policy, emphasizing his goal for “fair and reciprocal trade,” the official said.
Many lawmakers, especially those from agricultural regions, are deeply concerned about Trump’s threat to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement and his decision to pull out from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, leaving the now 11-nation pact to move on without the United States.
“Here we are in this economic recovery, but if we make the wrong decisions on trade you could really tip us off into a farm recession,” said Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan. He has raised his concerns directly with Trump, most recently on Air Force One as Trump flew to talk to the American Farm Bureau Federation on Jan. 8.
The administration official said Trump’s trade message would be in tune with his speech last fall to the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, where he said the United States would no longer “enter into large agreements that tie our hands, surrender our sovereignty and make meaningful enforcement practically impossible.”
That declaration contrasted with remarks Trump made last week in an interview in Davos, Switzerland, where he seemed to open the door to re-entering a renegotiated TPP.
Earlier on Tuesday, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt will be testifying before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and he is likely to be touting his achievements in rolling back Obama-era regulations.
Posters now on display at the EPA headquarters list several, starting with proposing to repeal greenhouse gas standards for electric utilities and proposing to “review and revise WOTUS,” the rule that redefined the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act.
Lawmakers won’t be in session after Tuesday because of the Republican congressional retreat that starts Wednesday in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. Both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are expected to address the lawmakers.
The break comes as Republicans struggle to reach agreement with Democrats on a number of spending issues as well as immigration. The government is currently operating under a continuing resolution that expires Feb. 8. It is the fourth such stopgap spending bill that Congress has had to enact since the fiscal year began Oct. 1.
Among the issues critical to agriculture that need to be settled include cotton and dairy provisions that are expected to provide additional funding for the next farm bill. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., also is leading negotiations to address concerns by food and agribusiness companies that the 199A deduction in the new tax bill gives farmers an unfair incentive to sell crops to farmer cooperatives. “People are working together (on a deal), so I think we’ll get there soon," Hoeven said last week.
Here’s a list of agriculture- or rural-related events scheduled for this week in Washington and elsewhere:
Monday, Jan. 29
National Association of State Departments of Agriculture winter policy conference, through Thursday, Grand Hyatt.
National Association of Conservation Districts annual meeting, through Jan. 31, Nashville, Tenn.
Tuesday, Jan. 30
10 a.m. - House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on broadband infrastructure, 2322 Rayburn.
10 a.m. - Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing on potential for growth in aquaculture, 253 Russell.
10 a.m. - Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee meeting to consider nominations of Susan Combs to be the Interior Department’s assistant secretary for policy, management, and budget; and Ryan Nelson to be Interior’s solicitor, 366 Dirksen.
10 a.m. - Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, 406 Dirksen.
Noon - Seminar organized by the International Food Policy Research Institute, Farm Foundation and German embassy, “The Future of Livestock: Enhancing sustainability, responsibility and efficiency,” 1201 Eye St. NW.
9 p.m. - President Trump delivers the State of the Union message to a joint session of Congress.
Wednesday, Jan. 31
Cattle Industry Convention, Phoenix.
Republican congressional retreat, through Friday,
Thursday, Feb. 1
Friday, Feb. 2
For more news, go to: www.Agri-Pulse.com