Trump: ‘We probably have to wait until after the election’ to pass infrastructure bill’

Trump: ‘We probably have to wait until after the election’
Hannah Northey and Nick Sobczyk, E&E News reporters
Published: Thursday, March 29, 2018President Trump. Photo credit: C-SPAN
President Trump visited Richfield, Ohio, today to discuss his plan for investing in the nation’s infrastructure. C-SPAN
President Trump conceded that the “biggest, boldest infrastructure plan” he pitched in rural Ohio may not make it through Congress until after the November elections.
While Republicans have expressed skepticism about whether the president’s $1 trillion plan would pass, Trump at the rally in Richfield, Ohio, blamed meager support from Democrats.
“We probably have to wait until after the election because the Democrats say, ‘Don’t give him any more wins,'” Trump said, flanked by rows of union workers donning hard hats.
The comments marked the first time Trump has acknowledged what many on Capitol Hill have been saying for weeks, but the speech was also his first real effort to pitch his infrastructure plan to the public. He rolled out the plan in Washington last month.
With midterm elections looming, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have sought a concerted effort from the president to sell voters on his plan. The idea is that the White House could help push fiscal conservatives over the edge on tough votes on issues like raising the federal gasoline tax to pay for the proposed $200 billion investment.
The event was accompanied this morning by an op-ed in the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper by Energy Secretary Rick Perry, touting the benefits of expanding energy infrastructure, including a surge in exports of domestic gas that largely occurred under the Obama administration.
As for the road ahead, Trump acknowledged it’s unlikely his infrastructure plan would pass in one broad legislative package.
The administration and congressional Republicans are instead plotting out a different path, which involves passing a series of infrastructure vehicles to push the White House outline through in bits and pieces.
“It can be passed in one bill, or in a series of measures,” Trump said. “What matters is that we get the job done.”
A White House official detailed that legislative route yesterday. In addition to what the administration calls a $20 billion “down payment” in the omnibus spending bill passed last week, the White House is eyeing the Federal Aviation Administration and Water Resources Development Act reauthorizations as potential vehicles for Trump’s plan.
Lawmakers are in the preliminary stages of work on both bills, but it remains unclear how and whether they would be able to address other elements of Trump’s plan, namely surface transportation and his proposed grant programs.
The president in his signature style delivered a campaign-style stem-winder in which he applauded the remake of the television show
“Roseanne” and said his daughter and White House adviser, Ivanka Trump, was “working hard” on the infrastructure plan.
He also blasted the Paris climate accord as a “disaster” for the United States, and he revisited his approval of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline and bemoaned that no one called to personally thank him.
“I get elected, I approve it right at the very beginning,” Trump said. “I say to myself, ‘Can you imagine the boss of whatever company it is who never actually called me to say, “Thank you.”‘ But that is OK.”