Donald Trump goes back to pretending to care about infrastructure

Josh Israel

Josh Israel Senior Investigative Reporter, Think Progress

Weeks after yet again publicly shelving his long-delayed promise to repair the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, President Donald Trump claimed on Tuesday that action was just around the corner. His administration’s many stalled attempts to address the issue has become a national joke, as its promised “Infrastructure Week” became reminiscent of Groundhog Day.

Trump’s latest bluster came Tuesday morning as part of an effort to defend Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who has drawn widespread bipartisan criticism for blocking election security legislation and virtually every other major bill since the start of the 116th Congress.

“Mitch McConnell loves our country,” Trump told reporters. “He’s done a great job. We are trying to pass an infrastructure bill. It’s being written up right now, for our highways, and our roadways.”

This news came as something of a surprise given that in May, Trump was adamant that he would not do anything on infrastructure because he was mad that Congress was fulfilling its constitutional duty to conduct oversight of his administration. After reaching a tentative agreement with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on the outlines of a $2 trillion infrastructure plan, anti-government activists in his own administration and congressional Republicans reportedly objected to the cost. Rather than stand up to his party, Trump called the Democratic leaders in for an ambush under the guise of a negotiation.

In a carefully staged temper tantrum, Trump told the two leaders he could not simultaneously act on infrastructure and be subject to congressional oversight of his administration. Then, he addressed reporters while standing in front of printed signs announcing his not-actually-spontaneous decision.

“So, I just wanted to let you know that I walked into the room and I told Sen. Schumer, Speaker Pelosi: ‘I wanna do infrastructure. I wanna do it more than you want to do it. I’d be really good at that, that’s what I do. But you know what, you can’t do it under these circumstances. So get these phony investigations over with,'” he recounted. Congressional Democrats were unmoved, and they continue to proceed with oversight investigations. But apparently Trump now hopes no one will remember his ultimatum from May.

A major rebuild of “the next generation of roads, bridges, railways and tunnels, and seaports and airports” is just one of many abandoned Trump campaign promises.

“Rebuild the country’s infrastructure. Nobody can do that like me. Believe me. It will be done on time, on budget, way below cost, way below what anyone ever thought,” he vowed in his June 2015 campaign kickoff speech.

“It will be American steel that will fortify Americans’ crumbling bridges, American steel, it will be American steel. It will be American steel that sends our skyscrapers soaring, soaring into the sky, beautiful sight, more beautiful with American steel. It will be American steel that rebuilds our inner cities,” he promised a year later on the campaign trail.

Since taking office, the Trump administration repeatedly promised that action was imminent. After a train derailment in December 2017, Trump predicted speedy approval of a massive infrastructure spending bill that never came to fruition.

Even when he enjoyed a Republican majority in both the House and Senate for the first two years of his term, no action ever materialized. And after the 2018 midterm election Blue Wave swept the GOP out of the House majority, Trump actually claimed that the results would give him “a much easier path, because the Democrats will come to us with a plan for infrastructure, a plan for health care, a plan for whatever they are looking at, and we’ll negotiate.”

The American public will know soon enough whether this time, against all odds, Trump really means it.

***

Reposted from ThinkProgress

Josh Israel is a senior investigative reporter for ThinkProgress.org at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Previously, he was a reporter and oversaw money-in-politics reporting at the Center for Public Integrity, was chief researcher for Nick Kotz’s acclaimed 2005 book Judgment Days: Lyndon Baines Johnson, Martin Luther King Jr., and the Laws that Changed America, and was president of the Virginia Partisans Gay & Lesbian Democratic Club. A New England-native, Josh received a B.A. in politics from Brandeis University and graduated from the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia, in 2004. He has appeared on CNBC, Bloomberg, Fox News, Current TV, and many radio shows across the country.

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Saving the Nation’s Parks

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities. 

The wildfires ravaging the West Coast not only pose imminent danger to iconic national parks like Crater Lake in Oregon and the Redwoods in California, but threaten the future of all of America’s beloved scenic places.

As climate change fuels the federal government’s need to spend more of National Park Service (NPS) and U.S. Forest Service budgets on wildfire suppression, massive maintenance backlogs and decrepit infrastructure threaten the entire system of national parks and forests.

A long-overdue infusion of funds into the roads, bridges, tunnels, dams and marinas in these treasured spaces would generate jobs and preserve landmark sites for generations to come.

The infrastructure networks in the nation’s parks long have failed to meet modern-day demand. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave parks a D+ rating in its 2017 infrastructure report card, citing chronic underfunding and deferred maintenance.

Just this year, a large portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is owned and managed by the NPS, collapsed due to heavy rains and slope failures. Projects to prevent disasters like this one get pushed further down the road as wildfire management squeezes agency budgets more each year.

Congress recently passed the Great American Outdoors Act,  allocating billions in new funding for the NPS.

But that’s just a first step in a long yet vital process to bring parks and forests to 21st-century standards. America’s big, open spaces cannot afford to suffer additional neglect.

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