Democrats, Trump agree to work on $2 trillion infrastructure plan

Ignoring a series of ongoing investigative battles involving the Trump Administration, Democratic leaders in Congress emerged from a White House meeting with President Donald Trump on Tuesday and said the two sides had agreed to push for a massive $2 trillion infrastructure package.

"This was a very, very good start," said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer, as he told reporters the two sides had agreed to meet again in three weeks.

"What remains to be seen - we agreed we would meet again - to talk about how it would paid for," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, touching on what's been the biggest impediment to an infrastructure bill for years, the simple question of funding, which has sidelined every major plan for roads and bridges since Congress approved $48 billion in transportation funding in the Obama Stimulus plan of 2009.

Pelosi told reporters the two sides had agreed to a plan which would be 'big and bold.'

In a written statement, the White House characterized the meeting with Democrats as an “excellent and productive” one.

“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,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement sent to reporters.

“We have to invest in this country’s future and bring our infrastructure to a level better than it has ever been before,” Sanders added.

President Trump has long made clear that he favors action on infrastructure, and sees Democrats as his natural allies.

"I think it's very feasible because I think they want to do it," Mr. Trump told a Fox Business interview on March 22, 2019. "I mean, Nancy Pelosi told me very strongly they want to do infrastructure."

Pelosi and Schumer said Democrats had agreed with the President to expand the range of projects covered under an infrastructure bill to include spreading the availability of broadband high speed internet in rural areas, and not limiting the plan to just new roads and bridges.

But the biggest stumbling block still remains how such a plan is funded; some Republicans in Congress worry that the President might endorse an increase in the federal gasoline tax, which hasn't changed since 1993.

While GOP lawmakers in Congress have been opposed to gas tax increases, Republicans have embraced them at the state level in recent years, with a gas tax hike in Ohio under new GOP Gov. Mike DeWine, and a gas tax increase in Alabama earlier this year - the first in 27 years.

We hope it will go to a constructive conclusion," Sen. Schumer told reporters.

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