11:46 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much. I’m honored to be here with Republicans and Democrats from both the House and the Senate, as well as members of my Cabinet — people that are working very hard, and we’ve really accomplished a lot.
We’re here today to discuss the urgent need to rebuild and restore America’s depleted infrastructure. We’ve been having meetings with different members of Congress. They’ve been very successful meetings. We’ll see how it all turns out. This is a priority that is shared by members of both parties. And most importantly, it’s shared with the American people and by the American people.
To begin the conversation on the issue, I have laid out the principles of the biggest and boldest infrastructure initiative in, at least, a half-a-century.
This framework will lead to a $1.5 trillion investment in American infrastructure; a faster permitting process that takes two years, instead of ten years, and maybe less. We’re looking to get it down to one year, if possible. Because when the money goes out, we want them to be able to spend the money not wait around for many, many years while they get their permits.
Fifty billion dollars for rural infrastructure, including broadband Internet access. Rural communities have not been treated fairly, so we’re going to spend $50 billion on rural infrastructure and Internet access, which is so important.
A workforce initiative that invests in our most valuable resource, the American worker. And we’re doing a lot of that. We had a meeting — I had a phone call this morning with Prime Minister Abe of Japan, and I suggested that he invest more and open up more plants. They announced, as you know, a number of plants are coming into Michigan and other states, but we want them to bring in more and they will do that. He said, they will do that. And we will expect to have some announcements pretty soon.
We have a lot of — a lot of companies are moving in. A lot of people are coming into the United States. They were leaving, and now they’re coming in. All good for our workers and good for our country.
More power for state and local governments to choose projects. We want them to choose the projects they want — the most important projects — because they know best the needs of their people. So we want the states to be very much involved in the choice of where this money goes.
After spending trillions of dollars overseas rebuilding other countries, it is time to rebuild our own country and to take care of our citizens. The money that we’ve spent overseas, not to mention in the Middle East, where, as of two months ago, we had spent $7 trillion. And yet, if we have to fix a road, we can’t fix it. If we have to fix a tunnel, we don’t do it because we don’t have the money. We spent $7 trillion in the Middle East. It’s ridiculous.
The American people expect all of us to work together to serve their needs. This is an issue where I really believe we can find common ground between Republicans and Democrats. It’s the infrastructure issue. It’s something great for our country. It’s something that our country needs.
And again, we have Democrats here, we have Republicans here. We’ve had other meetings. We will have meetings in the future, including new meetings with this group. This is a very capable group of people, and I think we’re going to come up, ultimately, with a solution to the infrastructure of our country, which is in very poor condition.
We’re extremely happy with the bill that was passed because we had to take care of our military. Our military was in bad shape. Now we’ve had the biggest spending ever, and our military will be stronger than it’s ever been before. We needed that. I want to cut costs, but we needed that. Now I want to spend that money on the military wisely. I want to see if we can twice the planes for half the price, essentially. I want to get — we’re going to make sure we buy maximum equipment and other things with the dollar — not that it’s going to be wasted. So our military will be in better shape than ever before.
And now what we’re going to do is have our discussion. So we appreciate it. Thank you all very much. Thank you.
END 11:50 A.M. EST