Timeline for Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan still ‘up in the air’

Timeline for Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan still ‘up in the air’

The timing of President's Trump $1 trillion infrastructure package is still "up in the air," one of his top policy advisers said Wednesday, as the administration considers its best path forward on some of Trump’s chief campaign promises.

DJ Gribbin, special assistant to the president for infrastructure policy, said that the timeline for Trump’s national rebuilding plan will hinge on whether it moves as a standalone measure or if it is attached to another legislative priority.

“The timing of the process is still a little bit up in the air,” Gribbin said at a Wall Street Journal event on infrastructure. “Initially, the plan was healthcare, tax reform, infrastructure.”

But there’s been some talk of adding infrastructure to other bills “to help improve the passability” of those other initiatives, he added.

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Gribbin dodged a question about whether infrastructure could move before tax reform or healthcare is figured out, saying, “I’m not the legislative strategy guy, I’m the infrastructure guy."

Trump signaled in a recent New York Times interview that he is considering speeding up the timeline for his yet-to-be unveiled infrastructure proposal and pairing it with tax reform because infrastructure is “so popular” among lawmakers.

Anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist and other prominent conservatives, however, are urging Trump and congressional Republicans to keep infrastructure spending out of a tax-reform bill.

And Trump told Fox Business this week he wants to "do healthcare first" before tackling tax reform. He had previously signaled that Republicans would move on to tax reform after the GOP's defeat on its ObamaCare repeal bill last month.

While Gribbin emphasized that they are still crafting the infrastructure measure, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said the package could be unveiled as soon as next month — a major shift from the administration’s initial goal of fall.

Gribbin said the White House is taking the “big view” of what constitutes as infrastructure, saying Trump’s proposal may address housing, air traffic control and even veterans hospitals.

“There are some unique needs, especially when you think about veterans hospitals,” Gribbin said when pressed by The Hill after the event. “Is there a way to incorporate maybe a public-private partnership concept in serving veterans and providing them with better healthcare?”

Gribbin said there would be some money for new and transformative projects in the plan, but that the “bulk” of the proposal would focus on leveraging private-sector dollars and streamlining the lengthy permit approval process.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D), who worked under the Obama administration and appeared at the Journal's event Wednesday, pushed back against the idea of exclusively relying on public-private partnerships.

His comments echo what Democrats in Congress have been saying about Trump’s push to improve the country’s ailing infrastructure.

“You can’t get from here to there on fairy dust,” said Emanuel, who was chief of staff when former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaOvernight Cybersecurity: What we learned from Carter Page's House Intel testimony | House to mark up foreign intel reform law | FBI can't access Texas shooter's phone | Sessions to testify at hearing amid Russia scrutiny Russian social media is the modern-day Trojan horse Trump records robo-call for Gillespie: He'll help 'make America great again' MORE enacted the 2009 economic stimulus package.