Mulvaney casts doubt on chances of infrastructure deal

White House acting chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyTrump administration asks Supreme Court to take up challenge to consumer bureau NOAA chief praises agency scientists after statement backing up Trump tweet The Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same MORE on Tuesday cast doubt on the chances of passing an infrastructure deal as President TrumpDonald John TrumpMarine unit in Florida reportedly pushing to hold annual ball at Trump property Giuliani clashes with CNN's Cuomo, calls him a 'sellout' and the 'enemy' Giuliani says 'of course' he asked Ukraine to look into Biden seconds after denying it 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 News Media signs Bartiromo to multiyear deal Trump: 'Top shows' on Fox News, cable are 'Fair (or great)' to me Trump criticizes Fox, which 'isn't working for us anymore' 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 PelosiPatagonia says to shut stores for a few hours during Global Climate Strike Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Pelosi unveils signature plan to lower drug prices | Trump says it's 'great to see' plan | Progressives pushing for changes Progressives push for changes to Pelosi drug pricing plan MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer, Pelosi push Trump to back universal background check bill Sinema says she would back Kennedy in race against Markey Democrats threaten to withhold defense votes over wall 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.