Uncertainty mounts over timing of Trump’s infrastructure plan

Uncertainty mounts over timing of Trump’s infrastructure plan
© Greg Nash

Uncertainty is growing on Capitol Hill over whether the Trump administration will immediately turn to an infrastructure package after Congress finishes tax reform.

President Trump has promised to unveil his long-awaited rebuilding plan after taxes, but he may be eager to first revisit the health-care debate, according to a top Republican.

The issue was discussed during a meeting between Trump and the Senate GOP conference at the Capitol on Tuesday.

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“He’s interested in [infrastructure]. That came up. It’s on his to-do list for next year, in addition to health care,” Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenate moving ahead with border bill, despite Trump On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Senators hammers Ross on Trump tariffs | EU levies tariffs on US goods | Senate rejects Trump plan to claw back spending Senators hammer Ross over Trump tariffs MORE (R-S.D.), chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, told reporters.

But when pressed on whether infrastructure would be Trump’s No. 1 priority in 2018, Thune demurred.

“Well, he would love to get back on health care. I think a lot of it depends on when and if we have 50 votes for something,” he said. “But infrastructure, I think, he wants to tee up right behind that.”

An infrastructure package, which was once billed as a priority for Trump's first 100 days in office, has taken a back seat to other GOP initiatives this year.

Trump said he would submit a rebuilding proposal to Congress after taxes, but that could be complicated if the White House prods Republicans to try to repeal and replace ObamaCare again.

Trump also recently vowed to push for welfare reform after taxes, throwing yet another knotty issue onto lawmakers’ plates.

There had been some hope that infrastructure could be tied to tax reform, but Thune said Tuesday that is unlikely to happen.

“Some of those conversations have been had in the past with Democrats about what it would take to get them to vote for a tax-reform bill, and could it be coupled with infrastructure,” Thune said. “But I think at this point it’s pretty clear that … tax reform is going to travel on its own.”