Mulvaney casts doubt on chances of infrastructure deal

White House acting chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick Mulvaney12 things to know today about coronavirus Mulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus The Memo: Trump agenda rolls on amid pandemic MORE on Tuesday cast doubt on the chances of passing an infrastructure deal as President TrumpDonald John TrumpFauci says his meetings with Trump have 'dramatically decreased' McEnany criticizes DC mayor for not imposing earlier curfew amid protests Stopping Israel's annexation is a US national security interest 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 BartiromoLara Trump: Twitter no longer 'a platform for free speech' Trump lashes out at Fox News after poll shows him trailing Biden Trump complains Fox News is 'doing nothing to help' him get reelected 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 PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump tweets as tensions escalate across US Judd Gregg: Biden — a path to the presidency, or not Trump asserts his power over Republicans MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerJudd Gregg: Biden — a path to the presidency, or not Montana barrels toward blockbuster Senate fight Federal judges should be allowed to be Federalist Society members 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.