Mulvaney casts doubt on chances of infrastructure deal

White House acting chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyBolton emerges as flashpoint in GOP debate on Iran Acting DHS secretary threatened to quit after clashing with Miller: report On The Money: Treasury rejects Dem subpoena for Trump tax returns | Companies warn trade war about to hit consumers | Congress, White House to launch budget talks next week | Trump gets deal to lift steel tariffs on Mexico, Canada MORE on Tuesday cast doubt on the chances of passing an infrastructure deal as President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: 'I will not let Iran have nuclear weapons' Rocket attack hits Baghdad's Green Zone amid escalating tensions: reports Buttigieg on Trump tweets: 'I don't care' MORE met with congressional Democrats for talks on the subject.

“Do I think there’s an interest in doing it? Yes. Do I think there’s probably more interest, especially on the Democrats' part, to make a show for trying to get a deal? Yeah," Mulvaney said during an interview with Maria BartiromoMaria Sara BartiromoFox's Napolitano dismisses suggestion US is in a 'constitutional crisis' Bolton, Shanahan, Pompeo meet at Pentagon to discuss military options in Venezuela Mulvaney casts doubt on chances of infrastructure deal MORE at the Milken Institute's Global Conference in California.

"I hope conversations go well today, but if they don’t it would not surprise me," he continued.

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He added that he believes "there's a much better chance" of getting the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement — which has run into its own set of problems in Congress — passed than an infrastructure deal.

Mulvaney threw cold water on the prospects of coming to an agreement on bipartisan infrastructure legislation at the same time Trump sat down with Democratic leaders for negotiations at the White House. Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiPelosi receives John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award Dems walk Trump trade tightrope Tlaib calls on Amash to join impeachment resolution MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer wants investigation into Chinese-designed New York subway cars Getting serious about infrastructure Schumer calls on McConnell to hold vote on Equality Act MORE (D-N.Y.) were among the dozen Democrats to attend the meeting.

The acting chief of staff voiced concerns stemming from regulations that could lead to a lengthy process for implementing an infrastructure package. Mulvaney indicated that he had expressed reservations to Trump about the viability of an infrastructure deal bearing fruit before he left office.

"I explain infrastructure as a pipe, and you put money in one end of the pipe and then asphalt and bridges come out the other end of the pipe," he said. "Right now that pipe is 10 years long."

"And I’ve told the president several times, ‘Mr. President it doesn’t make a difference how much money you put in this end of the pipe … you won’t see a single lane of traffic, or road paved before end of your second term.' "

He said the breakdown in negotiations is unlikely to come due to fiscal concerns, but pointed to Republicans' preference for easing environmental regulations and other rules that lengthen the implementation process.

“Why go ahead and commit to an infrastructure deal now and say we’re going to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure, but we’re not going to change the environment in which it gets built?" he said. "And so now this trillion dollars doesn’t actually translate into something tangible for 10 years. That’s not acceptable to this president."

Mulvaney expressed physical discomfort as he sat down for the interview, and shared with the crowd that he's dealing with kidney stones.

"Was a fun night, but it’s better than going to the meeting with Chuck and Nancy at the White House," he said.