June 9 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump on Friday announced the formation of a new council to speed his massive proposed infrastructure overhaul that will "hold the bureaucracy accountable."
In a speech at the U.S. Transportation Department, Trump said the process for getting construction approval for federal projects is burdensome and promised his administration would prevent bureaucratic red tape from delaying projects.
He said the infrastructure council would create tools to help contractors and states win speedy approval for infrastructure projects and would be empowered to punish federal agencies if they cause delays, though he did not specify what those punishments would be.
Any federal agency that "consistently delays projects by missing deadlines will face tough new penalties. We will hold the bureaucracy accountable."
Trump has set a goal of passing a bill that would leverage $200 billion in federal infrastructure spending with the goal of spurring a total $1 trillion overhaul combining public and private money aimed at repairing the nation's transportation infrastructure, including roads, bridges, railroads and airports.
On Thursday, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao told lawmakers Trump's effort will include a major priority for Democrats in Congress: guaranteed prevailing wage protections for workers. Democrats have been generally receptive to a large infrastructure spending package, though some vowed to fight it if workers' wages weren't guaranteed, a major priority for organized labor.
Trump's focus Friday was to promise speedy implementation of the spending.
"[It took] four years to build the Golden Gate Bridge and five years to build the Hoover Dam -- but today it can take 10 years just to get the approvals and permits needed to build a major infrastructure project," Trump, a former real estate developer, said.
"How can a country prosper under such restraints?"