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GOP chairman: Infrastructure bill could pass in lame-duck session

GOP chairman: Infrastructure bill could pass in lame-duck session
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House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill ShusterWilliam (Bill) Franklin ShusterDem calls for aviation safety hearing after death on Southwest flight Loss of Ryan hits hard for House Republicans Forget term limits — retirements will create competitive 2018 elections MORE (R-Pa.) said Wednesday that an infrastructure bill could pass in a lame-duck session of Congress if it doesn’t succeed before the midterm elections.

“It could be a lame-duck strategy, that we do it after the election,” Shuster told a meeting of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. 

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A lame-duck session of Congress occurs when lawmakers on Capitol Hill meet following the election of their successors, but before the successors have been sworn in to begin their terms. 

The Pennsylvania Republican, who is retiring at the end of his current term, said earlier this month that legislation could be ready “closer to the summer.”

“Maybe we can pass it before August recess, hopefully we can. If not, everybody takes out their knives, political knives in September and October, and we’ll be just cutting each other up,” Shuster said Wednesday.

While the Trump administration unveiled principles for its infrastructure plan earlier this month, the push has been overshadowed by other legislative efforts, including lawmakers’ battles over immigration and spending. But the White House continues to promote the plan and the New Democrat Coalition on Tuesday met with President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Dems add five candidates to ‘Red to Blue’ program White House notifies Russia that no new sanctions are coming: report Senators push HHS to negotiate lower prices on opioid overdose reversal drug MORE's infrastructure policy adviser, D.J. Gribbin, to discuss a package.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynTrump's NASA nominee advances after floor drama Senate GOP wary of new tax cut sequel Amid struggle for votes, GOP plows ahead with Cabinet picks MORE (R-Texas) on Tuesday expressed skepticism that lawmakers could get an infrastructure bill over the finish line this year.

“It will be challenging,” Cornyn told Bloomberg. “I certainly would be happy if we could, but we’ve got a lot of things to do, that being one of them, and I don’t know if we will have time to get to that.”

But Shuster, who is working on a bill with House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee ranking member Peter DeFazioPeter Anthony DeFazioDem calls for aviation safety hearing after death on Southwest flight Trump: Infrastructure overhaul will likely come after midterms Dem lawmakers press United to 'respect' catering workers' push to unionize MORE (D-Ore.), said he is “committed” to producing a package that he argues must be bipartisan to succeed.

“I don’t begin to try to understand how the Senate works,” Shuster told the conference, mentioning Cornyn’s comments.

The chairman, who on Tuesday announced he was dropping his push to privatize air traffic control, noted that Congress must soon pass both an appropriations bill and the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization. 

“Other than that, I don’t know what they’re going to be doing over there in the Senate. Same in the House,” he said. 

While lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have questioned a funding source, Democrats have repeatedly slammed the White House’s proposal for focusing on public-private partnerships and relying on funding from state and local governments.

DeFazio, who argues the administration’s proposed $200 billion of federal seed money is not enough to overhaul U.S. public works, took the stage on Wednesday with a sign that read “devolution.”

“Show me the money. There’s no sense in talking policy if there is no money,” DeFazio told the gathering of state Transportation officials.

"But if there's no money, it's not worth having the discussion," he added.