President Trump's chief aide on infrastructure issues, D.J. Gribbin,
is leaving the White House for "other opportunities," said news reports citing administration officials.
Gribbin was a principal architect of Trump's 10-year, $1.5 trillion infrastructure investment initiative, which proposes to use $200 billion in federal seed money to try to generate an additional $1.3 trillion in new project spending by states, localities and private investors.
Trump recently said Congress will probably deal with major infrastructure legislation
after the November mid-term elections, and that it could be through a series of bills rather than one. Congressional leaders have said they expect this year to pass new measures authorizing aviation programs and water projects in bills that could include new investment provisions.
E&E News reported that Larry Kudlow, the new director of Trump's National Economic Council, said in a statement that Gribbin "has played an important part in coordinating the administration-wide process behind the president's infrastructure initiative. I am grateful for his service and fully believe that the plan President Trump delivered to Congress, combined with the work we are doing administratively, will have a transformational impact on our economy."
The plan, which the administration rolled out in February, did not include any provision for replenishing the Highway Trust Fund, which is on course to be depleted starting in fiscal 2020 unless Congress provides new funding.
Stakeholder groups including the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials have called for lawmakers in any major infrastructure package to make a priority of putting the trust fund on a sustainable long-term path.
Gribbin, in March 1 comments to state transportation department executives at AASHTO's annual "Washington Briefing" conference, told officials that while the infrastructure proposal did not address the trust fund, "the president has been clear that he supports
working with Congress on finding a solution that is more than just a short-term, kick-the-can-down-the-road solution."
AASHTO Executive Director Bud Wright said that with Gribbin leaving his White House position, "AASHTO acknowledges his efforts to make transportation infrastructure a top administration priority," but that "it is now up to Congress to keep the issue moving forward."
Wright added that "the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Highway Trust Fund will need a $138 billion cash infusion through 2027 just to maintain current spending levels plus inflation. Closing this enormous funding gap will require bipartisan leadership and support, and AASHTO is anxious to work with members of Congress and the administration to find a long-term, sustainable solution before time runs out on the Highway Trust Fund."
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