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March 08, 2017

Sixers owner Joshua Harris meets with Trump over $1 trillion infrastructure plan

Philadelphia 76ers owner Joshua Harris was among several U.S. business leaders who attended a meeting with President Trump on Wednesday to discuss private financing for the administration's proposed $1 trillion nationwide infrastructure and jobs program.

The ambitious initiative, revealed during Trump's address to Congress last month, aims to rebuild roads, bridges, airports and other public works projects by providing public-private funding to state agencies for priority projects.

Harris, who co-founded private equity firm Apollo Global Management, was joined Wednesday by Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk, Vornado Realty Trust CEO Steve Roth, General Atlantic CEO Bill Ford and developer Richard LeFrak, among others, according to Reuters. Government aides including Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and EPA chief Scott Pruit were also in attendance.

Trump has said the program, if approved by Congress, will create millions of jobs.

The push for a comprehensive infrastructure program comes after the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the nation's infrastructure a D+ grade and warned that the country will need to invest an estimated $3.6 trillion by 2020 to address the most critical needs. The federal highway trust fund, a conventional source for infrastructure funding, also faces a shortfall by 2020 and would need to come up with $150 billion over six years continue its current spending, according to a transportation expert at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Despite the president's suggestion that states be given a 90-day window to start infrastructure funding after receiving federal funding, The Washington Post reports that the plan may not come to fruition before next year. An administration official told that newspaper potential public-private partnerships could include tax credits for developers, toll projects or government payments for project-specific debt issued by private developers.

Trump has moved to streamline the approval and environmental review process for "high priority" infrastructure projects outlined in an executive order signed last month.

“We’re not going to give the money to states unless they can prove that they can be ready, willing and able to start the project,” Trump reportedly said during Wednesday's meeting.

There was no immediate indication of what role Harris might play in the development of the infrastructure plan.