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Mulvaney casts doubt on chances of infrastructure deal

White House acting chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyHeadhunters having hard time finding jobs for former Trump officials: report Trump holdovers are denying Social Security benefits to the hardest working Americans Mulvaney calls Trump's comments on Capitol riot 'manifestly false' MORE on Tuesday cast doubt on the chances of passing an infrastructure deal as President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden prepares to confront Putin Biden aims to bolster troubled Turkey ties in first Erdoğan meeting Senate investigation of insurrection falls short 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 BartiromoThe US can solve the border crisis by decoupling from China Democrats control the language of politics and culture — but for how long? Stefanik: Cheney is 'looking backwards' 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 PelosiPelosi: 'No intention' of abandoning Democrats' infrastructure goals Senate investigation of insurrection falls short Ocasio-Cortez: 'Old way of politics' influences Manchin's thinking MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerIt's not just Manchin: No electoral mandate stalls Democrats' leftist agenda DOJ to probe Trump-era subpoenas of lawmaker records Democrats demand Barr, Sessions testify on Apple data subpoenas 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.