Senate leader McConnell sees hope for infrastructure bill

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 17, 2017 12:00 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Friday predicted legislation will come before Congress to create an infrastructure investment program, and he held out hope that it will draw bipartisan support.

During a press conference at the start of a week-long congressional recess, McConnell looked ahead to the next legislative period and said that he also hoped Judge Neil Gorsuch will be confirmed to a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court before the start of another recess that begins in mid-April.

Gorsuch, nominated by Republican President Donald Trump, would fill the seat left vacant more than a year ago with the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Republicans blocked Democratic President Barack Obama's choice of Judge Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy.

On infrastructure, McConnell said, "We expect to get some kind of recommendation on an infrastructure bill, a subject that we frequently handle on a bipartisan basis."

McConnell did not provide details.

But Trump, during his presidential campaign, talked about pushing for enactment of a $1 trillion infrastructure program that would help rebuild roads, bridges, airports and other public works projects.

Trump has talked about creating a tax credit to encourage private sector investment in many of these projects. But Democrats have criticized that approach, saying it would both fail to spur enough rebuilding and would put taxpayers on the hook for a tax credit to wealthy developers, who they said would in turn build toll roads that taxpayers again would have to pay to use.

Democrats want a more direct federal role in sparking a construction boom.

(Reporting By Richard Cowan; Editing by W Simon and Cynthia Osterman)