Top Republicans break with Trump on public-private for infrastructure

Top Republicans break with Trump on public-private for infrastructure
© Greg Nash

Top House Republicans say they want public-private partnerships to stay on the table as an option for financing a sweeping infrastructure overhaul, despite criticisms from President TrumpDonald John TrumpUS-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' Trump talks to Swedish leader about rapper A$AP Rocky, offers to vouch for his bail Matt Gaetz ahead of Mueller hearing: 'We are going to reelect the president' MORE.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyThe Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants History in the House: Congress weathers unprecedented week EU official in Canada says he feels 'at home' there because no one was shouting 'send him back' MORE (R-Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseThe Memo: Fears of violence grow amid Trump race storm Democrats call for increased security after 'send her back' chants Democratic strategist on Trump tweets: 'He's feeding this fear and hate' MORE (R-La.) both said Thursday that public-private partnerships could be a smart move to pay for any proposed infrastructure package.

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“We ought to look at every option to see if those kinds of partnerships help us build more roads and help meet the needs of communities,” Scalise told reporters on Thursday.

The lawmaker said that using private spending to fund public infrastructure projects has been successful in many instances, but emphasized that any final plan will have to have bipartisan support.

The comments come one day after Trump met with Democratic leaders to discuss infrastructure proposals.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump telling aides to look at potential spending cuts if he wins reelection: report Budget talks between White House, Pelosi spill into weekend Trump says he won't watch Mueller testimony MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTop Democrats demand security assessment of Trump properties Lawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens Trump administration denies temporary immigrant status to Venezuelans in US MORE (D-N.Y.) announced they reached an agreement with Trump to spend $2 trillion on an infrastructure package. The trio is expected to meet again later this month to continue negotiations, including options for funding such a plan.

GOP lawmakers, concerned that Democrats will propose raising or implementing new taxes, argue that going with public-private partnerships could help them stretch federal spending for infrastructure projects.

But in the meeting, Trump reportedly referred to his administration’s previous infrastructure plan, which called for public-private partnerships, as “so stupid” and argued that he was never supportive of the model because “you get sued.”

He blamed the past plan on his former top economic adviser Gary CohnGary David CohnPress: Acosta, latest to walk the plank 'I alone can fix it,' Trump said, but has he? The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump targets Iran with new sanctions MORE.

His comments were also countered by McCarthy, who said at a press conference Thursday: “I think public-private has worked in a lot of places and I think that you should always use that element too.”

McCarthy praised the public-private model as a way to “leverage money further.”

Scalise also said Thursday that lawmakers should focus on isolating the “most pressing infrastructure needs that we can afford to meet” before throwing out a dollar amount, predicting the final cost will be “a lot lower than $2 trillion.”