Trump talks infrastructure with Musk and developers

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Tesla CEO Elon Musk walks into the lobby of the Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US President Donald Trump met with business leaders, including Tesla (NASDAQ 🙂 Inc Chief Executive Elon Musk, and real estate developers, as the administration seeks partnerships with the private sector. to boost spending on infrastructure.

During his presidential campaign, Trump said he would push for a $ 1 trillion infrastructure program to rebuild roads, bridges, airports and other public works projects, but has not presented a specific plan.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said “strong public-private partnerships” would be key to rebuilding the nation’s highways, bridges and airports.

“Infrastructure used to be a source of American pride, but now a dominant and ineffective regulatory system can keep projects in limbo for years,” Spicer said. “The government has wasted too much taxpayer money on inefficient and wrong projects.”

The White House sees infrastructure as a potential big job generator, but officials have said the federal government cannot shoulder the entire burden. The administration is studying toll roads, tax credits and other ways to stimulate private investment.

Top real estate and private equity executives attended the meeting, including developer Richard LeFrak, Vornado Realty Trust (NYSE 🙂 CEO Steve Roth and Apollo Global Management co-founder Josh Harris, the White House said. .

LeFrak and Roth have been chosen to lead an infrastructure council that Trump plans to create, a LeFrak spokesperson previously said.

The CEO lunch follows their meeting Tuesday with AFL-CIO president Rich Trumka to discuss infrastructure and other topics. The White House held a meeting of 15 federal agencies last Thursday to begin work on the administration’s infrastructure plan.

Last month, Trump touted the infrastructure plan in a speech to Congress.

“To launch our national reconstruction,” he said, “I will ask Congress to pass legislation that produces a $ 1 trillion investment in US infrastructure, financed with public and private capital, creating millions of new jobs.”

Edward Mortimer, a transportation expert for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told a Senate panel Wednesday that without action, the federal highway trust fund would face a serious deficit beginning in 2020, and lawmakers would have to contribute. $ 150 billion in six years. to maintain current spending.

“This shortfall will likely result in significant uncertainty, and states will possibly delay major transportation projects,” he said.

Wednesday’s meeting included Vice President Mike Pence, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and Environmental Protection Agency Director Scott Pruitt, as well as General Atlantic CEO Bill Ford, partner of McKinsey & Co, Tyler Duvall and Nature Conservancy Managing Director Lynn Scarlett, The White. House said.

Scarlett said in a statement that any infrastructure package should include “natural” solutions such as reefs, dunes and wetlands. Other participants in the meeting did not comment or respond to requests for comment.

The American Society of Civil Engineers rated US infrastructure at D + and estimated that the country needs to invest $ 3.6 trillion by 2020.

In January, Trump signed an executive order aimed at expediting environmental reviews and approvals of all infrastructure projects, especially high-priority projects like upgrading the U.S. electrical grid and telecommunications systems, and repairing and improvement of port facilities, airports, pipelines and “critical” bridges and roads.