Friday, June 5, 2020

Trump, Democrats Agree to Spend $2 Trillion on ‘Infrastructure’

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President Donald Trump and Democratic leaders agreed on Tuesday to spend $2 trillion on roads, bridges, water, broadband and power grids, and will meet again in three weeks to discuss how to pay for the plan, Democratic leaders said.

The meeting, which appeared to be largely positive, contrasts with more heated discussions between the two sides on the trickier issues of immigration and border security. Both parties have shown support for a potential infrastructure bill, which, if passed, would be a rare example of bipartisan legislative success.

“We just had a very productive meeting with the president of the United States,” House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters at the White House. “We did come to one agreement: That the agreement would be big and bold.”

Despite the united desire to strengthen U.S. infrastructure, the measures to pay for the bill, which would need the approval of Congress, may be a stumbling block to cooperation.

“We agreed on a number, which was very, very good — $2 trillion for infrastructure. Originally we had started with a lower — even the president was eager to push it up to $2 trillion,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said.

The White House called the meeting “excellent and productive” and confirmed that another one would take place later in May.

“The United States has not come even close to properly investing in infrastructure for many years, foolishly prioritizing the interests of other countries over our own,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

“The president looks forward to working together in a bipartisan way and getting things done for the American people.”

Still, Trump’s chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said an agreement was unlikely because Democrats would not back environment deregulation, which the White House would want to speed up construction.

“I think there is a much better chance of getting the USMCA passed than getting the infrastructure bill passed,” Mulvaney said, referring to the new trade deal with Canada and Mexico at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills.

The next meeting is set to focus on how to finance the plan. Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters on Monday the president had not made up his mind on whether to support raising a federal tax on gasoline to help pay for it.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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