Views & Perspectives: Immigration, infrastructure top of legislative agenda for Republicans



President Trump invited Republican leadership to Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland, to review the legislative agenda for 2018. The weekend meetings Jan. 6 and 7 included members of the President’s cabinet and staff. Following the meetings, the President and leaders held a press conference at Andrews Air Force Base to announce that infrastructure and immigration would be the top priorities for the 2018 legislative agenda.

Obviously, there are other pressing legislative matters which will be considered in the short term including passing a budget, passing appropriations bills and keeping the government operating beyond the short-term continuing resolution. Some of these short-term matters may be resolved by the time you are reading this column.

All of these activities were superseded by the release of the book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” by Michael Wolff.

Congress returned following the holiday the week of Jan. 8. In my January column, I reviewed in detail my thoughts on infrastructure. Funding an infrastructure and transportation program is critical for America. A comprehensive approach is needed including raising the federal gas tax at least 10 cents a gallon, creating an infrastructure bank to fund big projects, allowing for more funding of public private partnerships, allowing states to do more tolling to increase road capacity, and continuing the U.S. Department of Transportation TIFIA (Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act) and TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) programs.

The other important legislative initiative is for Congress to pass a bipartisan immigration program. A big part of comprehensive immigration reform is to reinstate and reauthorize DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). Reauthorization of DACA will enable thousands of immigrants to remain in the United States and continue to contribute in our communities and our country. Immigration reform will allow thousands of immigrants to continue working in communities and states providing services and doing jobs Americans simply do not want to do. These immigrants contribute mightily to our economy. We need to continue to encourage students from around the world to study in America which allows for American students to also study abroad and become aware of the world.

With only two successful legislative achievements during President Trump’s first year and a slimmer majority in the Senate as a result of the Alabama election of a new Democratic senator, it will be imperative for President Trump and Republican leaders to work with Democrats to develop bipartisan legislation. Immigration and infrastructure have a long history of bipartisanship legislation. 2018 should be the year when Congress can deliver significant solutions to the American people to fix our crumbling infrastructure and fix our broken immigration system. Encourage our senators and representatives to work together for America.

Ray LaHood

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