President Donald Trump reversed course on one of the major tenets of his long-awaited infrastructure plan Tuesday, telling lawmakers he was abandoning the public-private investment partnership concept that propped up the $1 trillion package.
Trump conceded that the public-private partnership framework, in which private firms would invest upfront in return for an ownership stake in the resulting property, was ultimately unworkable.
During the Tuesday meeting, Trump “emphatically rejected what everybody assumed was his position relative to financing infrastructure,” Democratic Rep. Brian Higgins of New York, who attended and asked Trump about the proposal, told The Washington Post. “He dismissed it categorically and said it doesn’t work.”
Meeting attendees told The Washington Post that Trump indicated he has pivoted toward paying for the infrastructure package with direct federal spending or, potentially, by taking on additional debt.
The White House has been silent on the specifics of the expected infrastructure package, but anytime the plan has been discussed in recent months, administration officials, and Trump himself, have emphasized the importance of encouraging private investment to offset the potential burden on the taxpayer. Trump’s comments, which backtrack on this central tenet of his infrastructure plan, reveal the degree to which Republicans and the White House have failed to move forward on the proposed plan.
During the campaign, Trump repeatedly proposed an infrastructure package that would attract Republican support, due to its reliance on private investment for the bulk of the total $1 trillion expected cost. The administration reiterated this theme during “infrastructure week” in early June, when they rolled out a plan in which only $200 billion of the total $1 trillion would come from taxpayer funds.
“Working with states, local governments and private industry, we will ensure that these new federal funds are matched by significant additional dollars for maximum efficiency and accountability,” Trump said in a speech during infrastructure week.
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