Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi went to the White House Tuesday morning, hats in hand, seeking President Donald Trump’s help to secure funding for infrastructure projects.
It’s a far cry from the last meeting the President had at the White House with the Democratic leaders, when the pair refused to negotiate and avoid a government shutdown. Trump walked out on the discussion, and both Schumer and Pelosi used the meeting to attack the President.
Now, however, Democrats are eager to bring back results (and money) to their home districts, so Schumer and Pelosi are much more willing to negotiate. And they are willing to be much nicer to the President when asking for money.
President Trump has championed infrastructure projects during his administration, so Democrats went in seeking a rare moment of agreement. As such, there was no talk of their recent Russia investigation witch hunt, and no mention of their planned Congressional investigations of the President.
The tactic seemed to work, as the President agreed to a nationwide infrastructure package worth about $2 billion. Schumer confirmed the number to the press during a press conference after the meeting.
The only obstacle to the plan may come from fiscal conservatives, who do not want to increase federal spending and widen the national debt.
Democrats want to increase taxes to pay from the infrastructure projects, specifically, by raising the gasoline tax. That would likely be a non-starter for many Republicans, and even adviser Kellyanne Conway told reporters that the President cuts taxes, and doesn’t raise them.
Even so, the meeting was not a mere formality. President Trump, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, adviser Ivanka Trump and a half-dozen other administration officials sat in on the meeting with about a dozen congressional Democrats. Additional meetings are planned to work out details.
“We agreed on a number – which was very, very good. Two trillion dollars for infrastructure. Originally, we started a little lower. Even the president was eager to push it up to two trillion dollars,” Schumer told reporters.
Nancy Pelosi seemed to be happy to work with the President. “We agreed that we would meet again to talk about how it would be paid for. Building infrastructure of America has never been a partisan issue,” she said.
Larry Kudlow, director of the president’s National Economic Council, said the White House is taking a careful approach to the project. “We’re going slowly on this,” he said. “We would like this to be bipartisan. We would like to work with them and come up with something both sides can agree to. It’s an important topic.”
Here’s video from Fox News of a press briefing after the meeting.
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H/T: Fox News