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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

After President Trump was elected, private equity firms rushed out to raise giant new infrastructure funds. It was a mistake.

Backdrop: The idea was that the White House plan would lean heavily on public-private partnerships that leveraged federal dollars with outside investment. Everything from bridge repairs to rural broadband to upgrading ports, airports and highway rest stops.

Infrastructure improvement is a bipartisan goal, and the public-private model had historical support from many members of both parties.

  • If Trump wanted to tout a $1 trillion infrastructure plan, then the private sector felt justified in seeking to raise hundreds of billions of dollars. Not only to fill their federal ask, but also to continue doing more traditional and state/local projects. Unprecedented investment opportunity.

But the White House infrastructure plan was stillborn, shunted aside for other priorities and midterm politics. Now the administration has again begun infrastructure discussions, both official and ad hoc, but Axios has learned that public-private partnerships are effectively off the table.

  • There isn't yet a consensus replacement for funding mechanisms, particularly as many Trump advisers continue to oppose a gas tax increase.
  • There also isn't too much infrastructure expertise left in the White House, with prior point person DJ Gribbin now at private equity firm Stonepeak Partners.
  • Reuters recently reported that Trump may touch on infrastructure in his State of the Union address, but so far it sounds like any mention would be about the whys rather than the hows.

The bottom line: Many of the private equity firms insisted they weren't banking on a federal infrastructure plan. They weren't really telling the truth, but now they'll have to make good on those false promises.

Go deeper

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Biden explains justification for Syria strike in letter to Congress

Photo: Chris Kleponis/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden told congressional leadership in a letter Saturday that this week's airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to Iranian-backed militia groups was consistent with the U.S. right to self-defense.

Why it matters: Some Democrats, including Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), have criticized the Biden administration for the strike and demanded a briefing.

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FDA authorizes Johnson & Johnson's one-shot COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

Photo: Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration on Saturday issued an emergency use authorization for Johnson & Johnson's one-shot coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: The authorization of a third coronavirus vaccine in the U.S. will help speed up the vaccine rollout across the country, especially since the J&J shot only requires one dose as opposed to Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech's two-shot vaccines.

Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios