Trump’s infrastructure meeting with Democrats fails
May 22, 2019
The second infrastructure meeting between President Donald Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was disappointing for anyone who was hopeful about an infrastructure bill anytime soon.
On Wednesday, May 22, Trump, Pelosi and Schumer held a follow-up meeting regarding a proposed $2 trillion infrastructure package.
According to reports, the meeting ended with President Trump walking after just a few minutes, with the President stating he refused to work with Democrats on an infrastructure package until they agree to stop investigating him.
“I just wanted to let you know that I walked into the room, and I told Sen. Schumer and Speaker Pelosi, ‘I want to do infrastructure. I want to 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,’” Trump said during an impromptu press conference in the Rose Garden following his exit from the meeting.
USMCA first, infrastructure second
The tone for Wednesday’s meeting was set the night before when Trump sent Pelosi and Schumer a letter. In a letter dated Tuesday, May 21, Trump expressed to Pelosi and Schumer what he wants before getting into an infrastructure plan: ratification of United States Mexico Canada Agreement.
“Before we get to infrastructure, it is my strong view that Congress should first pass the important and popular USMCA trade deal,” Trump wrote in the letter
In his letter, Trump acknowledged that the Highway Trust Fund is drying up and needs to be reauthorized by September 2020. Trump told Pelosi and Schumer it will be helpful if they came to Wednesday’s meeting with infrastructure priorities and specific funding amounts dedicated to each, stating that the Democrat caucus has been unclear which priorities it supports.
“I am pleased that you have indicated that infrastructure is a bipartisan congressional priority and that there are significant majorities in both the House and Senate to take action on the issue,” Trump said.
In a joint statement issued Wednesday morning before the second meeting, Pelosi and Schumer said they look forward to hearing Trump’s plan for how to pay for the proposed $2 trillion infrastructure package.
“In our conversations with the president, Democrats will continue to insist on our principles: that any plan we support be big, bold and bipartisan; that it be comprehensive, future-focused, green and resilient; and that it be a jobs-and-ownership-boost with strong Buy America, labor, and women, veteran and minority-owned business protections,” Pelosi and Schumer said in the statement.
Following Wednesday’s meeting, Pelosi and Schumer both expressed frustration over the meeting’s abrupt ending.
Pelosi brought up the letter from Trump, stating she sees no relation between USMCA and an infrastructure package.
According to Pelosi, she gave Trump a speech that highlighted some of the great infrastructure legislation in American history, including those signed by Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt. She encouraged Trump to be a part of that history.
“He just took a pass, and it just makes me wonder why he did that,” Pelosi said. “In any event, I pray for the president of the United States. And I pray for the United States of America.”
Schumer was critical of the meeting in remarks following the short meeting.
“What happened in the White House would make your jaw drop,” he said.
Schumer said he was prepared to give Trump a 35-page plan detailing funding dedication for infrastructure priorities, as requested in Trump’s letter. In remarks, Schumer accuses Trump of avoiding announcing a funding mechanism.
“He is looking for every excuse, whether it was ‘Let’s do trade first,’ or whether it was ‘He’s not going to pay for any funding,’ or whether today that ‘There are investigations going on,’” Schumer said.