White House can’t guarantee infrastructure plan by State of the Union
President Donald Trump’s long-promised plan to revitalize America’s aging infrastructure may not be ready to be formally rolled out by the President’s first State of the Union address later this month as hoped, sources inside and outside the administration tell CNN.
After promising to propose an infrastructure plan within his first 100 days in office, Trump has so far failed to deliver. Late last year, aides said Trump would be rolling out the plan in January, hoping infrastructure could woo Democratic support in a midterm election year, but that hasn’t happened yet. It appears the roll out date could change again. According to sources, the unveiling could now be pushed to early February.
Trump’s top aides had hoped the President could use a fully rolled out infrastructure reform package as a bipartisan chip to play during his State of the Union address. But even if the plan isn’t fully unveiled, it is likely Trump mentions infrastructure in the prime-time address, but a detailed plan is what the industry and lawmakers are waiting for.
The schedule shift, according to sources, stems from Trump’s decision to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, ahead of his State of the Union address. White House aides had planned to use that time — the forum runs from January 23 to January 26 — to roll out the infrastructure proposal.
“I think you’ll see the President roll out an infrastructure plan in January,” Marc Short, Trump’s top legislative aide, told Fox News in December.
Asked about the delay, two White House officials said the Trump administration was “still finalizing the rollout plans for the President’s infrastructure initiative” and that “no dates have been settled on.”
A White House official told CNN in December that White House aides had hoped the infrastructure plan would have already gained traction with lawmakers by the time Trump delivered his first State of the Union address.
Trump’s infrastructure plan will hinge on using government money to spur private spending. According to White House officials, Trump’s plans will propose spending at least $200 billion on infrastructure projects over the next 10 years, with the hope of spurring an additional $800 billion in state and local funding.
Administration officials have begun to brief key members of Congress and their staffs on Trump’s infrastructure proposal, according to Capitol Hill sources, a sign that the rollout could be soon.
Democrats and business groups see $200 billion as too low, especially given Trump’s repeated pledge on the campaign trial to propose a $1 trillion-dollar plan.
White House officials have described the federal spending in the to-be-proposed plan as a floor, not a ceiling, and said Trump would be willing to spend more money to get the plan through a largely gridlocked Congress.
Before Trump entered the White House, House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster said that Trump would propose a plan within the first 200 days in office.
“We’re going to start to work on it, but first of all, you’ve got to figure out the pay for it, which will come, I believe, in the first 100 days,” Shuster said in January 2017. “Then in the next second 100 days is when we’ll put together a big infrastructure package.”
Months later, in April, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said the administration planned to unveil their plan in “May or late May.”
Once May rolled around, Chao said it would be the “principles” of Trump’s plan would be unveiled that month.
That rollout never happened in May, but Trump, in June, went to the Department of Transportation as part of his “infrastructure week” and pledged to reform the way infrastructure projects were permitted.
“We are giving control back to the cities and the states,” Trump said.