Trump’s infrastructure plan may slip to next month
White House officials told senators on Tuesday that the release of President Trump’s long-awaited infrastructure package may slip to next month, according to a Democratic aide.
The Trump administration had promised to unveil “detailed legislative principles” on Trump’s rebuilding initiative in early January, after the issue took a back seat to other GOP priorities all last year.
But White House officials told a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Capitol Hill that the proposal could now be released after Trump’s inaugural State of the Union address on Jan. 30, according to the aide, though they assured lawmakers that a plan was forthcoming.
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Sen. Tom Carper (Del.), the panel’s top Democrat, requested Tuesday meeting with Trump’s infrastructure team to learn more about the administration’s rebuilding proposal.
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn both attended Tuesday afternoon’s meeting on Capitol Hill.
Trump’s two main goals for the bill are to inject $1 trillion worth of overall investment into the nation’s infrastructure and bring down the lengthy construction permitting process to two years. The Environment and Public Works Committee has held multiple hearings on both topics over the past year.
Key details like how the rebuilding plan will be paid for were not discussed on Tuesday, however, and the plan’s timing remains in flux.
But Democratic senators were pleased they finally got to sit down face to face with Trump’s infrastructure team.
“For a year now, my Democratic colleagues and I have been eager to hear infrastructure ideas from our Republican counterparts in Congress and in the administration so that we can get to work,” Carper said in a statement.
“I appreciate the time Secretary Chao and White House officials like Gary Cohn spent with our committee today, and I am hopeful that we will finally see the long-promised infrastructure proposal from the Trump Administration sooner rather than later.”
The bipartisan meeting reportedly grew heated at one point, however, when Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) made an impassioned plea for more funding for Amtrak safety technology and a rail and tunnel project in the Northeast corridor.
Gillibrand tore into the administration, according to one source familiar with the incident, and claimed that White House officials are responsible for killing people if they don’t help fund the multibillion-dollar rail project.
But Chao shot back at the accusations, pointing out that New York and New Jersey Democrats are the ones holding up Ron Batory’s nomination to lead the Federal Railroad Administration over concerns about the Trump administration’s position on the so-called Gateway Program.
Gillibrand’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, told reporters Monday that his staff will also be sitting down with White House officials later this week to get more “specificity” about Trump’s infrastructure plan.
The flurry of meetings comes after Trump pitched his infrastructure plan to GOP congressional leaders at Camp David over the weekend, where there were reportedly mixed signals from the administration about key details in the plan.
Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) told The Hill on Monday that he was “not at all confident” that the White House knows how it wants to tackle the massive rebuilding initiative, despite repeated promises from the administration that it will soon be released.