Last summer, during one of the White House’s many “infrastructure weeks,” Trump unveiled his only meaningful infrastructure idea of 2017. As the president saw it, the nation needed to privatize its system of air-traffic control, and the White House organized a fake signing ceremony to help generate some interest in the idea.
It didn’t work. Congress rejected Trump’s idea quickly.
This year, however, offered the White House a new opportunity to get infrastructure right, and in early February, Team Trump unveiled a long-awaited blueprint on the issue, which was surprisingly awful. Three weeks later, as Reuters reported, the president’s plan already looks dead.
The U.S. Senate’s second highest-ranking Republican on Tuesday expressed doubt that Congress will pass legislation to increase infrastructure spending this year, citing time constraints.
Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, told reporters: “I think it will (be) challenging. I certainly would be happy if we could, but we’ve got a lot of things to do, that being one of them, and I don’t know if we will have time to get to that,” according to a transcript from his office.
President Donald Trump wants Congress to approve $200 billion in federal spending over 10 years designed to spur $1.5 trillion in infrastructure spending.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind. First, the White House’s arithmetic still doesn’t make any sense, and there’s literally no reason to think $200 billion in federal spending – redirected from other priorities – would spur $1.5 trillion in investments.
Second, Cornyn may want to blame the calendar, but there’s reason for skepticism. Congress has some spending packages to work on, but if lawmakers wanted to make infrastructure a priority, they could. Heck, they wrote, debated, and passed a $1.5 trillion tax plan over the course of a few weeks – which suggests they could make time for infrastructure if they really wanted to.
But they don’t, in large part because Trump’s blueprint is a joke.
Postscript: What about the president’s ongoing desire to privatize air-traffic control, splitting it off from the FAA? Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) acknowledged this week that the House is shelving the idea.