Two steps forward
Another week and another step forward for federal P3s in the US. Last week – although highly controversial in many quarters – the P3 market responded to the imminent arrival of Donald Trump in the White House rather optimistically.
And this goodwill toward the president-elect appears to have gathered even more steam this week with the appointment of Elaine Chao as federal Transportation Secretary.
Key sectors of the industry were quick to tell P3 Bulletin following her appointment that the move was a signal of things to come under Trump.
Chao has significant experience in transportation having previously served as deputy transportation secretary under George H. W. Bush. She also has years of experience as a key figure in Washington in other areas of government.
Most significantly however, Chao is also known to be a supporter of the P3 model, which means the DOT is in good hands from the industry’s perspective. With the DOT set to be the main funder of P3s at federal level going forward, Chao will play a key role in shaping the market in the coming years.
And as Congress begins debating the nuances of a new infrastructure package for the country, having someone heading up the DOT that understands and values P3s will be invaluable when push comes to shove.
It is also a significant step toward understanding how Trump will go about bringing his ambitious infrastructure plans into reality over the next year or so.
After a somewhat garrulous election campaign from Trump, there is a natural skepticism toward some of the policies that he touted in his battle with Hilary Clinton. But it certainly appears that he means business when it comes to infrastructure.
In addition to the appointment of Chao, Trump has named former Goldman Sachs banker Steven Mnuchin as his pick for Treasury Secretary – something that will also be well received by the business community.
His next challenge will be to move his plans through Congress, which in itself is no easy task. But the Republican stranglehold on the House and Senate will allay some difficulties at least.
For the past year, great strides have been made at federal level when it comes to facilitating P3s. Those strides have only got bigger over the past few weeks. It will now be down to Trump’s team to turn policy into reality.