Infrastructure a Priority for Trump, but Timing in Question

By Shaun Courtney

Infrastructure is among President Donald Trump’s top legislative priorities for 2018, but it might not be next in line after taxes, several Republican senators who attended a luncheon with the president told reporters.

The president was on the Hill Nov. 28 building support for a tax bill that he and Republicans leaders see as a must-pass piece of legislation.

The White House had included infrastructure as a priority for Trump’s first 100 days, later promising a package by this fall and both deadlines have passed. More recently the message from the White House and congressional leaders has been that infrastructure would come after taxes, but recent comments by the president raise additional questions about where infrastructure will fall among competing priorities like health care in 2018.

“It’s on his to-do list for next year—in addition to health care is infrastructure,” Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) told reporters.

But is infrastructure the first priority?

“He would love to get back on health care—I think a lot of it at some point depends when and if we have 50 votes for something—but infrastructure I think he wants to tee up right behind that,” Thune said.

Infrastructure had been floated as possibly being paired with tax changes because of the tax tools used to fund infrastructure and the possibility of getting bipartisan support for a combined bill. However, the House and Senate both advanced bills without infrastructure proposals.

“It’s pretty clear that those are going to be on parallel tracks. Tax reform is going to travel on its own and then infrastructure would have to come,” Thune said.

Infrastructure is still on the to-do list, even if the White House first turns to health care or a welfare revamp, all of which Trump, during public remarks Nov. 20, said would come after taxes.

“Our economy could do better,” Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) told reporters. “A good tax bill should help the economy become more dynamic. And that’s what we talked about. The president talked about infrastructure too. We need infrastructure. We’re dying for it.”

—With assistance from Jack Fitzpatrick

To contact the reporter on this story: Shaun Courtney in Washington at scourtney@bgov.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Hendrie at phendrie@bgov.com

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