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U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue recommended a 25-cent federal fuel “user fee” as part of a four-point plan to modernize the nation’s infrastructure.

"It's the simplest, fairest, and most effective way to raise the money we need for roads, bridges, and transit," he said. "Our leaders need to stop hiding behind the fallacy that this can’t be done and just go do it."

Donohue said improving U.S. infrastructure is a top priority for the business community and called for immediate action on legislation to address modernization and investment, according to the Chamber of Commerce. "It's time to invest in a 21st century infrastructure system to support and grow our 21st century economy," said Donohue. "It's time to approach this as a national imperative for long-term growth and competitiveness—not an exercise in parochial politics."

Donohue also cited expanding the workforce through immigration reform and work-based learning, leveraging more private and public resources, and streamlining the permit process at every level of government. "This isn't a set of demands. It's a handful of ideas that we believe policymakers should consider as they begin work on this critical national priority," said Donohue. "We will work with anyone…who is committed to getting this done for our country." 

President Donald Trump said last year he budgeted $200 billion for infrastructure upgrades that could be "leveraged" into $1 trillion investment in the nation's "crumbling systems." According to the White House, the U.S. has seen its roads, ports and other important social hubs decline in recent years.

“America’s infrastructure has fallen to 12th in the world and that is unacceptable,” information from the White House reads. “Every American depends on our roads, rails, ports, and airports, and the President is committed to fixing this problem, not just pushing more liabilities onto future generations.”

The American Society of Civil Engineers infrastructure report card released last year gave the nation a "D+" grade, suggesting incremental upgrades are needed. "While our nation's infrastructure problems are significant, they are solvable," said ASCE President Dr. Norma Jean Mattei. "We need our elected leadersthose who pledged to rebuild our infrastructure while on the campaign trailto follow through on those promises with investment and innovative solutions that will ensure our infrastructure is built for the future."

The Chamber’s plan was unveiled at the "America's Infrastructure Summit: Time to Modernize" event on Thursday, January 18. There, Donohue was joined by representatives from trade organizations to push for improvements. Donohue also called on Congress to address construction workers here due to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and Temporary Protected Status program. He called for swift action to ensure the labor force doesn’t lose "badly needed workers" here legally.

"What’s the first rule when you find yourself in a hole you don't want to be in? Stop digging! So let's keep—not kick out—the skilled immigrants who have been legally contributing to our economy for years thanks to programs like DACA and TPS," he said. Donohue said there are nearly 100,000 DACA and TPS beneficiaries in the construction industry.

Last modified on Sunday, 21 January 2018
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