President Donald Trump will take Air Force One to Ohio — then likely on to his South Florida resort — on Thursday to try breathing life into an infrastructure plan his senior aides now say will take multiple years to bring about.
The White House hopes to get some — but not all — of his $1.5 trillion package through Congress and signed into law this year. One senior administration official said Wednesday that White House aides expect a “strong push” to get a “big chunk” of the infrastructure plan to his desk by the end of 2018.
“We never anticipated this would be a quick or easy process,” the senior official said. “The president is in this for the long haul,” he added, saying the White House now expects parts of the package will have to wait for legislative action next year.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said recently he intends to move an infrastructure overhaul package in multiple bills. The senior administration official said the White House strongly supports that approach.
But many former congressional aides and analysts have said the odds of any major legislation passing as the midterm elections near is close to zero now that a sweeping omnibus spending bill has become law.
Watch: Ryan Talks Infrastructure at Home Depot Event
Trump will address heavy machine operators and industrial engineers, senior administration officials said. Those are the kinds of workers they say would benefit most from his infrastructure plan. Aides say he will not announce any new proposals, just try to gin up public support for his approach.
After speaking in Ohio, the president appears headed for his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, according to Federal Aviation Administration flight restrictions showing a VIP in that area over the Easter weekend.
In Richfield, he will tout his plan in the Buckeye State as it remains stalled on Capitol Hill.
Conservative GOP members have blanched at the cost, especially since many lawmakers assume it would require more federal dollars than the White House claims. Democratic members contend it relies too much on private funds. That makes it difficult to see how the White House will wrangle ample votes in both chambers to pass its bill as-is.
“The president’s proposal would do very little to make our ailing infrastructure better,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Feb. 12. “Those [private] entities would have to either charge local taxpayers new tolls or raise taxes and other fees to pay for new infrastructure. The Trump infrastructure plan is like a Hollywood facade – it may look real from afar, but in truth, it is a flat mirage.”
The White House released Trump’s long-promised infrastructure plan that day, a package that proposes 80 percent private investment and 20 percent in federal monies to remake the country’s roads, bridges, tunnels, airports, seaports and other transit facilities.
Since he was a candidate, Trump has bemoaned America’s foreign military conflicts and subsequent stability operations. He argues Washington should stop spending trillions of dollars overseas and instead devote that amount to rebuilding its own infrastructure.
After his aides rolled out the plan, Trump labeled it a “commonsense and bipartisan plan that every member of Congress should support.”
“I look forward to working with them, and we’re going to get the American people roads that are fixed and bridges that are fixed,” Trump said last month. “And if for any reason they don’t want to support it, hey, that’s going to be up to them.”
The president and his senior aides claim his plan would generate $1.5 trillion in infrastructure spending from public and private sources, while also creating thousands of jobs and overhauling the federal permitting process for such projects.
“It will speed the permit approval process from 10 years to 2 years, and maybe even to 1 year,” Trump said in February. “Because when we give U.S. governors and mayors, and people representing your great states … money and you can’t get your approvals, I guess we’re going to have to take that money back, or you’re not going to build.”