White House Watch: How Will Trump Sell His Infrastructure Plan to Republicans?

If there was any enthusiasm for President Trump’s infrastructure proposal on Capitol Hill on Monday, it was hard to find. Republican Bill Shuster, the chairman of the House Transportation committee, gave a perfunctory statement noting the White House’s framework while hardly endorsing it.

“The president is a builder who understands the importance of infrastructure to jobs and our economy, and I welcome the release of his administration’s principles today as Congress prepares to develop an infrastructure bill,” Shuster said. “There is widespread desire to work together on this effort. Passage of an infrastructure bill will require presidential leadership and bipartisan congressional cooperation. I look forward to the constructive debate ahead of us on this critical issue. Our constituents elected us to address the nation’s problems, and we now have a golden opportunity to work together to do that.”

House speaker Paul Ryan called the White House plan a “thoughtful, detailed, and responsible blueprint for achieving our shared agenda” and said House Republicans “look forward to working with the administration on this critical issue.” Speaking on the Senate floor, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said he was “particularly happy that the president is proposing to eliminate regulatory barriers and streamline lengthy and over-complicated permitting processes.” Neither leader said much on the proposed $200 billion in new infrastructure spending, and both focused on previous, smaller actions taken by Congress.

As one Capitol Hill Republican put it when I asked how the GOP was receiving the White House’s infrastructure framework, most members are waiting to see how the proposed spending would be paid for before weighing in too strongly in favor of the president’s ideas.

Trump Quote of the Day—To the new Democratic governor of Virginia, at the White House’s infrastructure rollout event on Monday: “Ralph Northam, congratulations on your victory. Your opponent was not a Trump person, I have to be honest with you. If he was, he would have done much better.”

After a week in which the Trump administration repeatedly mishandled the revelation that staffer Rob Porter had allegedly abused his former wives, the White House is struggling to put the scandal behind them. On Monday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders brushed off basic factual questions of when specific members of the administration had learned of the allegations against Porter. The FBI reportedly knew of the allegations almost a year ago, as did White House counsel Don McGahn.

“Look, we learned of the extent of the situation involving Rob Porter last Tuesday evening, and within 24 hours, his resignation had been accepted and announced,” Sanders said. “We announced a transition was going to happen, and within hours, it did.”

Sanders also insisted that she spoke for Trump in saying the “entire administration takes domestic violence very seriously and believes all allegations need to be investigated thoroughly,” and bristled at questions of why Trump hadn’t said so himself in public. “It’s my job to speak on behalf of the president,” she said. “I spoke to him, and he relayed that message directly to me, and I’m relaying it directly to you.”

That message has been undercut by Trump’s own comments in recent days, however. “Peoples [sic] lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation,” the president tweeted on Saturday. “Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused – life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”

Must Read of the Day—From Peter Baker at the New York Times: “A Whirlwind Envelops the White House, and the Revolving Door Spins”

Higher-Ed Watch—What’s going on at Princeton? Adam Rubenstein reports on a distinguished anthropology professor canceling a class on free speech—halfway through the semester—because students objected to his use of a racial slur during an academic discussion.

Screw-Up of the Day

Song of the Day—“Ramparts” by Red Letter Agent

This post originally appeared on Weekly Standard


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