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Trump light on details about infrastructure bill during Senate meeting

Trump light on details about infrastructure bill during Senate meeting
© Camille Fine

President Trump reiterated his desire to pass an infrastructure bill during a closed-door lunch with GOP senators on Tuesday, but was light on details about how or when he wants to get a rebuilding package over the finish line, according to lawmakers.

Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntGOP loads up lame-duck agenda as House control teeters Congress moves to ensure the greater availability of explosives detecting dogs in the US McConnell sets key Kavanaugh vote for Friday MORE (R-Mo.), who was sitting at the president's table during the meeting, told The Hill that the topic of infrastructure came up with Trump over lunch. The Senate Republican caucus met with the president for more than an hour to discuss tax reform during their weekly policy meeting.

Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeGraham: 'Game changer' if Saudis behind journalist's disappearance GOP senators ask EPA to block states that have 'hijacked' rule to stop fossil fuel production Pentagon releases report on sexual assault risk MORE (R-Okla.) said Trump also emphasized to senators how important an infrastructure package is for the country.

"It comes right after taxation, and he's excited about it," Inhofe told The Hill.

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Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) told reporters that Trump talked in “generalities” about his priorities, including an infrastructure package. But Kennedy said Trump did not indicate whether he wants infrastructure funding tied to tax reform.

Repatriation — or taxing corporate earnings stored overseas when they return to the U.S. at a one-time, lower rate — was considered a potential funding tool for the stalled rebuilding plan.

Trump floated the idea of linking tax reform and infrastructure together just last week during a meeting at the White House with members of the Senate Finance Committee.

“We did not get into those specifics,” said Kennedy, who supports using repatriation to pay for tax reform.

The president also did not indicate a timeline for when he wants Congress to pass an infrastructure proposal, according to Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneThrough a national commitment to youth sports, we can break the obesity cycle Florida politics play into disaster relief debate GOP chairman: FEMA has enough money for Hurricane Michael MORE (S.D.), the Senate’s No. 3 Republican.

Thune, who also chairs the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, told reporters that it’s clear that tax reform will need to come before infrastructure.

"He recognizes, and we do too, there are a lot of things we are trying to get done before we get to infrastructure," Thune said.

"I know it’s a priority for him. It's on their radar screen. But right now, there’s kind of an immediate to-do list. Tax reform, of course, is front and center.”

White House officials reassured Republicans on the Commerce Committee during a meeting last week that an infrastructure bill was coming.

The rebuilding package was initially billed as a 100-day priority for Trump, but it has taken a back seat to other issues like taxes and health care.

The administration vowed to release more details about the infrastructure plan in late summer or early fall, but has yet to offer any further guidance.