President Trump and GOP leaders are reportedly considering punting on a major infrastructure package until 2018, as Congress wrestles with a crammed legislative calendar this year.
Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill had already acknowledged that Trump’s rebuilding plans likely wouldn’t take shape until after his first 100 days in office, despite Trump’s pledge to deliver a proposal to Congress within his first 100 days as president.
GOP sources told Axios on Thursday that a new “backup plan” is developing that would push off a massive infrastructure bill until next year, when vulnerable Democrats may be more willing to work with Trump on delivering transportation investments to their districts before the midterm elections.
Such a plan would also give Republicans more breathing room to work on other issues this year.
Infrastructure investment was one of Trump’s most consistent campaign promises and has been one of his top priorities, though he has yet to sketch out his plan in detail.
Republicans, especially fiscal conservatives, have shown little appetite for massive infrastructure spending.
Trump had to personally ask GOP leaders to add a transportation bill to their 2017 agenda, as the issue took a back seat to other GOP priorities such as repealing ObamaCare, overhauling the tax code and securing the U.S.-Mexico border.
Thursday's report that Republicans may now delay infrastructure legislation even further quickly drew the ire of Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.).
“Delaying something for a year is just the first step to never doing it in the first place,” the Democratic lawmaker said. “Despite a lot of big talk about infrastructure, since the election we’ve seen increasing signs that a truly transformative infrastructure plan isn’t coming any time soon.”