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Rep. Capuano Slams Trump On Infrastructure, Calls For More TOD Funding From Congress


If President Donald Trump had prioritized infrastructure over healthcare, U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano thinks the country wouldn’t be as divided as it is today.

U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano

“Had Donald Trump done what he said he was going to do on that issue, the politics of today would be a lot different,” Capuano said Tuesday morning at Bisnow’s Boston Transit-Oriented Development Boom event. “The fact that he took his first step to try and take healthcare away from people instead of try and improve this country and give people jobs says a lot about his priorities.”

The Trump administration released a $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan in February. The plan committed $200B in federal funding over the next decade as well as $100B in grants eligible to applicants who were also raising their own funds for infrastructure projects. The rest relies on projected investments from state and local governments as well as private sources.

“Did anyone actually read the proposal? Anyone actually take it seriously?” Capuano asked the audience, which laughed in response. “I didn’t think so, and neither did anyone in Congress. That’s because it wasn’t paid for. There was no money.” 

Capuano, a 20-year incumbent Democrat, is facing off against Boston City Council member Ayanna Pressley in a primary closely watched by the national Democratic Party. A call for more progressive, younger leadership has led to political upsets elsewhere in the country, like the victory of 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley in the Democratic primary for New York’s 14th Congressional District. A similar primary surprise isn’t expected in Massachusetts, as Capuano was leading Pressley by 13 points in a recent WBUR poll.

Capuano told the audience Tuesday his seniority will translate to improved transit and affordable housing “when” the Democrats win the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives in November’s midterm elections, since he would have his choice of chairing either the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure or the Financial Services Committee, which tackles affordable housing issues. 

“I’m a big proponent of transit-oriented development. I think it’s the way of the future. I think it’s absolutely necessary,” Capuano said. “My hope is the Democrats, when they take over, will prioritize a big, honest infrastructure bill that will include not just roads and rail, but also housing, schools and firehouses. Infrastructure is infrastructure.”

An infrastructure bill proposed by a Democratic-led House could include transit-oriented development requirements on federally backed rail projects. Capuano thinks the measure is a necessity for Greater Boston, as soaring home prices and a high cost of living could begin to drive away the region’s younger workforce.

“You can live like a king or queen for $70K a year someplace else,” he said. “Here? That’s a working salary.”