Snow slows down traffic on Interstate 40, Jan. 22, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. A blizzard menacing the Eastern United States started dumping snow in Virginia, Tennessee and other parts of the South. 
Photo by Andrew Nelles/The Tennessean/AP

The problem with Trump trying to shift attention to infrastructure

Before leaving for another trip to his private Florida club, Donald Trump held a brief Q&A with reporters this morning, and was asked about the White House’s refusal to cooperate with congressional inquiries. The president replied:

“It’s just a continuation of the same witch hunt. They know it, and behind closed doors, they laugh at it. It’s just a continuation of the same nonsense. Everybody knows it. They ought to go to work, get infrastructure done….”

It matters, of course, that the congressional inquiries are not, in reality, a “witch hunt.” It also matters that federal policymakers are more than capable of investigating scandals and advancing legislation at the same time.

But I was especially intrigued by Trump’s reference to infrastructure.

Something similar came up a month ago, after the House Judiciary Committee began an expansive investigation into Trump World abuses. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded with an over-the-top written statement that – after accusing Democrats of being socialists who “kill babies” – said Congress should work to “address serious issues” such as infrastructure.

Evidently, at the White House, it really is always “Infrastructure Week.”

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Not only does the country have pressing infrastructure needs, but this is an issue that, in theory, could garner bipartisan backing.

What Trump neglected to mention, however, is that his White House hasn’t actually come up with an infrastructure plan – and the White House’s Republican allies on the Hill aren’t eager to come up with one.

Roll Call reported last week that administration officials chose to leave out infrastructure details in Trump’s new budget blueprint, hoping lawmakers will work to fill in the gaps.

Making matters worse, a closer look at the White House budget shows that Trump and his team have actually proposed reducing infrastructure investments in the coming years.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has already rejected the idea of a bipartisan infrastructure package. “Republicans are not interested in a $900 billion stimulus,” he told reporters when asked about the issue after the midterm elections.

Now Trump wants House Democrats to “get infrastructure done”? If he’s at all serious about the issue – a big “if,” to be sure – the president will have to do more than bark a vague order intended to distract from his mounting scandals.