Trump eyes combining infrastructure with tax reform, healthcare

Trump eyes combining infrastructure with tax reform, healthcare
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President Trump is considering attaching his $1 trillion infrastructure package to tax reform or healthcare in order to leverage support for his other legislative priorities.

In an interview with the New York Times, Trump said he may use infrastructure as a sweetener because it is “so popular” among lawmakers, especially among Democrats, who Trump referred to as “desperate for infrastructure.”

“I may put it in with healthcare. I may put it in with something else because it’s a very popular thing,” Trump said. “I’m thinking about putting it with another bill. Could be health care, could be something else. Could be tax reform.”

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Since the House failed to move on ObamaCare repeal last month, the administration may speed up its timeline for Trump’s yet-to-be unveiled infrastructure proposal, which was one of his chief campaign promises.

The legislation wasn’t expected to be considered until the fall, but Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said this week that a rebuilding package could come as soon as May.

“I’m thinking about accelerating it,” Trump told the Times. “We’re going to have a very big infrastructure plan. And it’s going to come soon.”

When pressed on whether Trump regretted not doing an infrastructure package first, he insisted that it was his idea “because infrastructure is so popular that I might want to use it for another bill.”

A number of lawmakers support coupling infrastructure and tax reform, with an international tax overhaul being floated as one way to pay for massive transportation upgrades.

It seems far less likely, however, that Democrats would be willing to support ObamaCare repeal in exchange for infrastructure investment.

Democratic support for Trump’s infrastructure plan also depends on the details of the package, which have begun to take shape in recent weeks. The $1 trillion proposal will likely have $200 billion to $300 billion in direct federal funding, according to the Times, with the rest of the investment financed by tax credits.

Trump also said he wants to streamline the permitting approval process and create a commission of about “20 to 25 people” to vet and oversee projects. He told the Times he wants to give projects 120 days to get off the ground in order to receive federal funding, though Trump had said earlier in the week he was eyeing a 90-day deadline.

“When we do the infrastructure, it’s going to be very important to me that if we give billions of dollars to a state, like New York, California or any other state, that they’re going to have to start spending that money, they’re going to have to have approval within 120 days,” Trump said.