A draft list of 50 major infrastructure projects compiled and shared by President Donald Trump’s transition team was put together by a Washington-based consulting firm, McClatchy has learned.
The list surfaced in documents obtained Tuesday by The Kansas City Star and News Tribune of Tacoma, Wash., both McClatchy papers. McClatchy reported that the Trump team had given the list to the National Governors Association.
The list of 50 projects was on two documents. One was an Excel spreadsheet dated Dec. 13 and the other a slideshow presentation dated the next day. All the projects on both documents were the same except two. Kansas City International Airport, an aging facility that city and local business leaders are keen on converting into a single-terminal design, appeared at No. 26 on both documents.
The White House said Wednesday that the documents were not “official” White House documents. Politico on Wednesday quoted Brigham McCown, a former member of Trump’s transition team, calling the slideshow document a fake.
But on Wednesday, two organizations and the office of Republican Rep. Sam Graves of Missouri, a member of the House Transportation Committee, said they were real.
CG/LA Infrastructure, a trade group advising clients on infrastructure issues, vouched for the authenticity of the slideshow document.
A CG/LA spokeswoman, Sarah Andrews, said: “The one you guys published yesterday, that is a very early draft of a list that we are currently putting together for them.”
She said CG/LA was an “unofficial adviser” to the Trump transition team.
The Trump transition team said the Excel document was not one of its records, but the National Governors Association on Wednesday flatly denied that statement.
“The Excel file came to NGA from the transition team,” said Elena Waskey, spokeswoman for the group. “If they’re saying it’s not a transition team document, I don’t really have an answer for you. What I know is that Excel file was given to us by the transition team.”
“This list is a working draft for the Trump administration,” said Wesley Shaw, a spokesman for Graves’ office. “Right now no plans or projects are finalized or authorized, but we’ll continue to stay involved in infrastructure decisions and ensure the federal projects undertaken in the KC area are those which local people support and from which local communities benefit.”
The Excel spreadsheet was part of a solicitation from the National Governors Association to its members on behalf of the Trump transition team asking for ideas for major infrastructure projects.
“Members of the transition team for President-elect Trump have asked NGA to reach out to governors with a very quick-turn request,” reads a Dec. 16 letter from the National Governors Association to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s office. “They seek examples of priority infrastructure projects that might be incorporated into a future infrastructure investment program.”
The Trump administration has made repeated pledges to start work on major infrastructure projects. It’s among Trump’s promises to create jobs and upgrade the country’s aging infrastructure. Airports are among the priorities he described during his campaign.
The documents developed by CG/LA, which helps clients identify infrastructure-related business opportunities, were described by a congressional aide as “working drafts that continue to be developed with input from the NGA.”
The National Governors Association’s Dec. 16 letter to its governors added that the 50 projects it referenced were ones that the Trump transition team had already begun vetting.
The National Governors Association’s correspondence to members indicated that a bipartisan infrastructure commission would evaluate proposals, and the Trump administration was expected to spend about $150 billion on projects in 2017.
The list of projects is not a final decision of the Trump administration’s priorities. States were advised that their suggested infrastructure projects were not binding.
“Once the new Administration takes office, there will be a more formal process for states to submit information,” the National Governors Association’s letter reads. “Projects will be chosen through a more formal process as well.”
The Trump administration, according to the National Governors Association, would prioritize projects that were considered national security or public safety emergency projects, those that had at least 30 percent of initial design and engineering work already completed, and those that would create jobs and had potential for increased domestic manufacturing.
Several publications picked up on Tuesday’s story, some questioning if certain states were omitted from consideration based on political calculations. California and Rhode Island, for example, were two heavily Democratic-voting states that did not have any infrastructure projects on the Trump transition team’s initial list.
However, Chicago had a pair of projects in it, a city in a Democratic-leaning state and where President Barack Obama started his political career. Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former chief of staff, is Chicago’s mayor.