"Best Law Firms" 2019

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EVERYONE AGREES U.S. INFRASTRUCTURE IS IN LAMENTABLE SHAPE. Can Congress and the Trump administration muster the courage to do something about it?



Donald Trump spurred great excitement in the building industry on the presumption that the new administration—which knew a thing or two about big construction projects— would follow through on candidate Trump’s promise to signif icantly increase government spending on American infrastructure, which Republicans and Democrats alike have acknowledged is in need of a major overhaul. Conventional wisdom held that a new infrastructure bill would be one piece of significant legislation that could garner bipartisan support. I t was t h e re f o re dis a p p o int in g when Trump proposed no such plan in his initial round of legislative trial balloons. Not until February 2018 did he do so, pitching a bill that would


U.S. News – Best Lawyers “BEST LAW FIRMS” 2019

spend a repor ted $1.5 trillion on infrastructure. Although details were scant, the plan targeted $200 billion in federal funding toward projects with streamlined design, permit and construction rules; created sweeteners to entice state and local governments to contribute their own resources; and established tax incentives in the hope of encouraging $1 trillion of private investment in public works. Despite high hopes, to date Congress has failed to pass major infrastructure legislation, with the parties disagreeing over the balance of federal spending and private investment. There is also discord within the Republican caucus concerning the bill’s funding, with party leadership loath to raise taxes to help finance it in the wake of last year’s tax cuts. Current speculation is that the details won’t be hammered out until after the midterm elections, with no action on any front until early 2019. I n t h e m ea n t i m e, t h e Tr um p administration has sent mixed signals about its commitment to the country’s infrastructure. On the positive side, the president has proposed changes to the environmental-permit ting process, including a provision called “one agency, one decision,” which would assign a single federal agency to coordinate permitting decisions, with a goal of completing all permitting in no more than two years.