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.
The train accident that just occurred in DuPont, WA shows more than ever why our soon to be submitted infrastructure plan must be approved quickly. Seven trillion dollars spent in the Middle East while our roads, bridges, tunnels, railways (and more) crumble! Not for long!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 18, 2017
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.