Business, unions ramp up campaign for U.S. infrastructure spending

Tue Feb 28, 2017 3:51pm EST
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By Luciana Lopez

(Reuters) - Business groups and unions are bulking up lobbying budgets and coordinating efforts to put pressure on Congress not to let President Donald Trump’s infrastructure spending plans fall through the cracks on Capitol Hill.

“The more time goes on, the more frustration will build up if it doesn’t come around quick enough,” said Sean McGarvey, president of North America's Building Trades Unions. McGarvey and Terry O’Sullivan, the president of laborers’ union LiUNA, met with Trump in January and spoke about infrastructure.

“I felt coming out of that conversation the president’s desire to move quickly on it,” McGarvey said. But, he added, a crowded agenda in Congress “might be putting a little bit of a reality check on it.”

Trump promised often during his campaign last year he would seek a trillion-dollar infrastructure program to create jobs and fix crumbling airports, bridges and roads, and he said Monday he planned to raise the issue in an address to Congress Tuesday night.

However, infrastructure spending is fighting for space on Congress's agenda with immigration, taxes, overhaul of the Affordable Care Act and a Supreme Court nomination.

Against that backdrop, unions and business groups are setting aside their differences on a host of issues to work together to revive momentum for substantial infrastructure spending.

Infrastructure spending is one issue where Democratic union leaders, Republican business executives and the Trump administration share common ground.

LiUNA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which represents business interests, are collaborating through a chamber-led group called Americans for Transportation Mobility. LiUNA also is working with a lobbying group for big construction employers through a group called the Transportation Construction Coalition.   Continued...

Sean McGarvey, president of the North America's Building Trade Unions, speaks at a news conference marking five years without a decision on the application for the Keystone XL pipeline project in Washington September 19, 2013. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan