Sunday, September 24, 2017

Chao says Trump infrastructure plan will direct 'about 25 percent' of resources toward rural areas

Rural America will be the focus of about one-fourth of the Trump administration's infrastructure package, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said Sunday on "Connections with Renee Shaw" on Kentucky Educational Television.

"I'm a Kentuckian; I understand rural America," said Chao, a Taiwan native who is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. "What concerns rural America concerns me, especially as a Kentuckian."

McConnell told The Rural Blog in March that the Republican-controlled Congress isn't interested in adding to the national debt at a time when the federal budget is deeply in deficit, so the infrastructure plan is expected to rely mainly on public-private partnerships. That has cast doubt on its rural impact, since most rural projects don't have the usage that can generate tolls or other revenue to make them as profitable as urban projects.

Chao said the plan will include "a separate title that addresses the concerns of rural America. We will have about 25 percent of all resources directed toward rural America."

Asked about President Trump's criticism of her husband for not passing a health-insurance bill and refusing to kill Senate filibusters, Chao said, "We're all professionals. That's an old story. Everything's fine now."

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