Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the U.S. Senate’s second highest-ranking Republican, “expressed doubt that Congress will pass legislation to increase infrastructure spending this year, citing time constraints,” Reuters reports.
President Trump’s personal pilot “is on the administration’s short list to head the Federal Aviation Administration,” Axios reports.
“Trump has told a host of administration officials and associates that he wants John Dunkin — his longtime personal pilot, who flew him around the country on Trump Force One during the campaign — to helm the agency, which has a budget in the billions and which oversees all civil aviation in the United States.”
Jonathan Swan: “President Trump endorsed a 25-cent gas tax hike to pay for infrastructure at a White House meeting this morning with senior administration officials and members of Congress from both parties… Trump also said he was open to other ways to pay for infrastructure.”
“Trump’s gas tax idea appears dead on arrival. Republicans aren’t about to hike taxes for the Trump voters driving their pickup trucks to work every day.”
“President Trump on Monday will propose offering $100 billion in federal incentives to encourage cities and states to invest in road, bridge and other building projects, the centerpiece of a plan to spur $1.5 trillion in infrastructure spending over the next decade without devoting significant federal money,” the New York Times reports.
“The proposal, to be unveiled the same day as Mr. Trump’s 2019 budget, faces long odds on Capitol Hill, where members of both parties — particularly Democrats — are skeptical of any plan that fails to create a dedicated new funding stream to address the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. Lawmakers are also doubtful that such a small federal investment will be sufficient to spur an infrastructure spending boom.”
“A top official charged with overseeing the safety of U.S. railroads has resigned ‘effective immediately,’ the Department of Transportation said Saturday after Politico raised questions about whether he had been simultaneously working as a public relations consultant for a sheriff’s department in Mississippi.”
Washington Post: “President Trump expressed misgivings about his administration’s infrastructure plan Friday at Camp David, telling Republican leaders that building projects through public-private partnerships is unlikely to work — and that it may be better for the government to pursue a different path. Then on Saturday morning, Gary Cohn, the president’s chief economic adviser, delivered a detailed proposal on infrastructure and public-private partnerships that seemed to contradict the president. He said the administration hoped $200 billion in new federal government spending would trigger almost $1 trillion in private spending and local and state spending, according to people familiar with his comments.”
“Cohn seemed to present the plan as the administration’s approach, although the president had suggested such an approach might not work. The seemingly contradictory statements, made within 24 hours of each other, show the uncertainty of the administration’s approach to its top legislative priority in 2018: building roads, bridges and highways.”
“The White House is preparing to unveil its long-awaited $1 trillion infrastructure plan soon after President Donald Trump signs the GOP tax overhaul, hoping to begin 2018 with another big legislative win — but its approach is already drawing resistance from Democrats who are in no mood to cooperate,” Politico reports.
“The plan set for release in January is expected to call for as much as $200 billion in federal spending over the next decade, with the rest coming from private investment, state or local funding and cuts to other federal programs.”
President Trump “plans to keep pushing his legislative agenda in 2018 by releasing his long-promised infrastructure plan in early January,” Bloomberg reports.
“Infrastructure advocates question whether a Republican-led Congress will be able to pass a spending plan with enough federal funding if it’s already approved a tax measure that official estimates say would bloat the budget deficit. Some say the administration missed its best opportunity to deliver a meaningful public works initiative by not incorporating it into the tax bill, which is nearing approval.”
“Top advisers crafting President Trump’s infrastructure plan say they aim to upend the way U.S. public works are financed, shifting the bulk of the decision-making and costs to states and cities and away from Washington,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“The administration is proposing $200 billion in new federal funding as the central piece of its $1 trillion plan to improve the nation’s infrastructure. President Trump frequently cited the need for upgrades on the campaign trail.”
“As a candidate, President Trump billed himself as a new breed of think-big Republican, pitching a $1 trillion campaign pledge to reconstruct the nation’s roadways, waterworks and bridges — along with a promise to revive the lost art of the bipartisan deal,” the New York Times reports.
“But an ambitious public works plan, arguably his best chance of rising above the partisan rancor of his first six months in office, is fast becoming an afterthought — at precisely the moment Mr. Trump needs a big, unifying issue to rewrite the narrative of his chaotic administration.”
“Infrastructure remains stuck near the rear of the legislative line, according to two dozen administration officials, legislators and labor leaders involved in coming up with a concrete proposal.”
“The timing and fate of President Trump’s infrastructure plan may depend on whether the GOP enacts major tax reform — a task that could prove challenging amid the struggle to pass a healthcare bill,” The Hill reports.
“Republicans are signaling that a massive rebuilding package, which has long been one of Trump’s top priorities, will most likely have to wait on the sidelines until lawmakers overhaul the tax code.”
Playbook: “House Republicans have been scrambling to find enough votes for President Donald Trump’s first infrastructure initiative: privatizing the country’s air traffic control system… The whip count was close to a few dozen votes short as of the time lawmakers left town Friday afternoon.”
“Several lawmakers we spoke to yesterday afternoon said it simply wasn’t a vote they wanted to take, because it gains them nothing back home. In many cases local leaders are against the legislation. Roads are in disrepair, bridges are crumbling and no one really cares about modernizing air traffic control, as one lawmaker put it to us. This would be a big embarrassment for Trump and GOP leaders, however. The inability to push a priority through one chamber shows how difficult D.C. is.”
President Trump “will seek to put a spotlight on his vows to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system and spur $1 trillion in new investment in roads, waterways and other infrastructure with a week-long series of events starting Monday in the Rose Garden,” the Washington Post reports.
“The events — billed as ‘infrastructure week’ — are part of a stepped-up effort since the president’s return a week ago from his first foreign trip to show that the White House remains focused on its agenda, despite cascading headlines about his administration’s ties to Russia.”
New York Times: “What the president will offer instead over the coming days, his advisers said, are the contours of a plan. The federal government would make only a fractional down payment on rebuilding the nation’s aging infrastructure. Mr. Trump would rely on a combination of private industry, state and city tax money, and borrowed cash to finance the rest.”
Associated Press: “The Trump administration intends to propose a package of tax breaks meant to help spur $1 trillion in new spending on roads, bridges and other construction over the next decade. But as part of that bill, Trump also wants introduce measures to drastically shorten approval times for projects.”
“The strategy appears aimed at building support for an effort with little momentum in Congress. Democrats are critical of Trump’s focus on public-private partnerships, rather that more traditional funding, while many conservative Republicans have balked at the idea of a massive government investment.”
Axios: “Trumpcare is still a long way from passing, and the timeline for tax reform is quietly being pushed back. Infrastructure may actually be the easiest sell politically, but it’s caught up in a legislative logjam that won’t be broken so long as health care is in the way.”
Politico: “Trump’s plan, expected to be released as early as May, has already faced months of skepticism from some conservative deficit hawks — even though it’s likely to call for far less direct federal spending than its eye-popping price tag implies. Meanwhile, Democrats are crying foul at suggestions that the blueprint will include hefty tax breaks for private investors and a shredding of permit requirements.”
“And even if the plan entails just a few hundred billion dollars in direct federal spending on roads, bridges, tunnels, railroads and airport upgrades — as most leaks to date indicate — no easy answers exist on where Congress would find that money. Trump is expected to let lawmakers do the heavy lifting on those details, which most likely depend on Congress’ ability to craft a once-in-a-generation overhaul of the tax code.”