(UPI) — President Donald Trump next week will give Congress a proposal seeking to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system to kickstart a weeklong effort to ramp up support for his $1 trillion infrastructure initiative, his chief economic adviser said.
Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council, told reporters Saturday that Trump is expected to announce the proposal Monday from the Oval Office and Rose Garden. Later in the week, the president is scheduled to travel to the Ohio River where it separates Ohio and Kentucky to talk about his plan to improve roads, bridges and inland waterways.
“We know that in many of these areas we’re falling behind, and the falling behind is affecting economic growth in the United States,” Cohn said. “The president wants to fix the problems, and he doesn’t want to push these liabilities into the future.”
The so-called “infrastructure week” is an effort to make good on Trump’s campaign promise to dedicate $1 trillion in public-private funding on infrastructure improvement. During a campaign speech Oct. 24 in Tampa, Fla., he said the pledge would create jobs.
“That is going to be so important,” he said. “When you look at our bridges, you look at our tunnels you look at our roads and highways, you look at our hospitals and schools, we’re in bad shape.”
Also next week, Trump plans to invite a bipartisan group of mayors and governors to the White House to talk about transportation — both roads and railways.
“It doesn’t matter who you are, whether you’re a farmer in the Midwest or a mother driving your kids to and from school, or work, or a college kid flying back and forth to school, you’re affected by infrastructure,” Cohn said.
Trump’s desire to privatize air traffic control stems from legislation written by Bill Shuster, R-Pa., chairman of the House Transportation Committee, in 2016.
The Federal Aviation Administration has long maintained responsibility for air traffic control at the nation’s airports due to the sensitive nature of the work and the government’s desire to prevent private airlines from competing for space, potentially complicating travel time and creating a safety hazard.
Many airlines, however, have said a private system would be more efficient, less costly and would reduce delays.
Under Shuster’s proposed legislation, the FAA would still have oversight of air traffic control, and if improved, the bill would remove 30,000 employees from the government’s payroll.
Trump invited executives from major airlines to join him for Monday’s announcement in the Rose Garden.
Democrats unveiled their own $1 trillion infrastructure plan in January, relying entirely on federal funding. They said Trump’s budget proposal in May indicated more cuts to the nation’s existing infrastructure programs than it added in new spending.
“President Trump’s campaign promises on infrastructure are crumbling faster than our roads and bridges,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the Senate floor.
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