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U.S.'s Pelosi says infrastructure bill should be $1 trillion-$2 trillion

by Reuters
Thursday, 11 April 2019 14:47 GMT

(Adds Pelosi plans to meet Trump, details, background)

By Susan Cornwell

LEESBURG, Va., April 11 (Reuters) - U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday that she would meet Republican President Donald Trump soon to talk about a plan to rebuild the country's infrastructure that she thinks should be worth at least $1 trillion, and maybe $2 trillion.

"Has to be at least $1 trillion, I'd like it to be closer to $2 trillion," Pelosi, a Democrat, said to reporters at a House Democratic meeting in Leesburg, Virginia. She declined to say how such an amount could be paid for, saying that was "to be discussed."

Pelosi said she would meet Trump soon to "talk about what that number would be," and she was optimistic they could work together on it.

The speaker had told The Associated Press in an interview published earlier on Thursday that she had a productive telephone conversation with Trump last week about working together on infrastructure.

Democrats want the White House to back significant additional federal funds to rebuild crumbling U.S. roads, bridges and airports, and Trump has previously suggested that a deal could be had.

Pelosi was dismissive on Thursday of Trump's plan unveiled in February 2017 designed to encourage spending on improvements by states, localities and private investors. Trump had asked Congress to authorize $200 billion over 10 years to spur a projected $1.5 trillion in projects, but it had no new direct federal spending and never got a vote in Congress.

But Pelosi also said that "there's plenty of common ground, just on the infrastructure piece alone, that can take us to a good place."

She said engineering experts put the U.S. need for infrastructure at $4 trillion to $5 trillion, and made clear she was not just talking about roads and bridges. Some water systems were 100 years old, she said. She also said it was essential to have broadband internet "across America", adding "I think the president supports that."

"We have to put aside any negative attitudes. We are going there with a positive attitude, how much do you want to invest? How do we prioritize, because we want to do school construction, we want to do public housing, there are other things too," Pelosi said. "How do we use the amount of money that we think we can invest in the most leveraged way, to get the most miles, literally and figuratively, mileage for the money? ...Whatever is agreed upon, we have to stretch it to the limit." (Reporting by Susan Cornwell Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Susan Thomas)

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