Trump, Democrats agree to spend $2 trillion on US infrastructure

The two sides met at the White House and described their discussion in positive terms. (File photo: Reuters)

President Donald Trump and Democratic leaders agreed on Tuesday to spend $2 trillion on US roads, bridges, power grids, water and broadband infrastructure, while leaving the thorny details of how to pay for it all to another meeting in three weeks.

The two sides met at the White House and described their discussion in positive terms, but the air of bipartisan cooperation may not last long.

Republicans are not willing to roll back tax cuts from Trump’s 2017 tax reform legislation, an idea Democrats who largely opposed that measure have floated as a way of financing the infrastructure plans.

Trump has not decided whether he would support an increase in fuel taxes to fund infrastructure projects, according to his top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow.

Still, the meeting between Trump, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer contrasted with previous, more heated discussions on immigration and border security.

“We just had a very productive meeting with the president of the United States,” Pelosi told reporters at the White House after it concluded. “We did come to one agreement: That the agreement would be big and bold.”

Schumer said Trump was eager to have a meaty number on the bill.

“We agreed on a number, which was very, very good - $2 trillion for infrastructure. Originally we had started with a lower - even the president was eager to push it up to $2 trillion,” Schumer said.

The White House called the meeting “excellent and productive” and said another one would take place in three weeks.

“The United States has not come even close to properly investing in infrastructure for many years, foolishly prioritizing the interests of other countries over our own,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

“The president looks forward to working together in a bipartisan way and getting things done for the American people.”

Still, Trump’s chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said an agreement was unlikely because Democrats would not back environment deregulation, which the White House would want to speed up construction.

“I think there is a much better chance of getting the USMCA passed than getting the infrastructure bill passed,” Mulvaney said, referring to the new trade deal with Canada and Mexico, at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills.

“I am all for more infrastructure. They could agree to $18 trillion - the question is how to pay for it,” said Republican Senator John Kennedy, who opposes borrowing more money or raising taxes to fund the proposals.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:59 - GMT 06:59
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