The Latest: WH seems to rule out gas tax hike for repairs
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump’s meeting with top Democrats (all times local):
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders says Tuesday’s infrastructure meeting between President Donald Trump and Democratic lawmakers was “excellent and productive.”
Sanders says the United States has not come close to properly investing in infrastructure for many years, “foolishly prioritizing the interests of other countries over our own.” She did not elaborate.
Trump met with Democratic lawmakers at the White House, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer saying afterward Trump agreed to a $2 trillion price tag for infrastructure investments.
Still, the two sides haven’t decided on how to pay for it.
Sanders says a meeting on funding will take place in three weeks.
She also says Trump and Democratic leaders have agreed to a future meeting to discuss prescription drug prices.
She says the president believes drug prices should be much lower.
Democratic congressional leaders say they have reached an agreement with President Donald Trump to spend $2 trillion on infrastructure.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer calls the $2 trillion figure a “very good thing” but says Trump pushed off tough questions about where the money will come from. Schumer says they told Trump the group needs his ideas on funding.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi adds that the eventual agreement “will be big and it will be bold.”
Pelosi says they’ve agreed to meet again to discuss how to pay for repairing repair roads, bridges and other infrastructure around the country.
Infrastructure repair is one area where Republicans and Democrats feel they can work together despite the rampant partisanship in Washington.
President Donald Trump’s acting chief of staff says the tensions between the White House and Democrats in Congress could work against prospects for getting an infrastructure deal.
Mick Mulvaney says he believes there’s a better chance of getting a new trade deal with Canada and Mexico approved than in getting infrastructure legislation passed.
Mulvaney is speaking at a conference in California on the same day that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrats meet with Trump at the White House.
Mulvaney says he’d be fascinated to see whether the meeting stays on topic. Democratic lawmakers are also focused on investigating issues raised in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
Mulvaney says that having an impeachment hearing one day and talking about an infrastructure deal the next is “not how the world works, let alone Washington, D.C.”
The White House says President Donald Trump is the “guy who lowers taxes,” appearing to rule out hiking the federal gasoline tax to pay for infrastructure repairs.
Trump is meeting with congressional Democrats after they asked to meet to discuss projects to rebuild roads, bridges and other infrastructure. But one big issue is how to pay for the repairs. The nation’s top business groups and labor unions support increasing the federal tax, currently 18.3 cents a gallon since it was last raised in 1993.
Asked whether Trump supports raising the gas tax, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said: “This president is the guy who lowers taxes.”
Conway acknowledged that “there’s no question” that infrastructure repairs need to be paid for.
The last time President Donald Trump sat down with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, the president walked out in a huff and dismissed their government shutdown talks as a “total waste of time.”
Nearly four months later, the leaders are coming together again Tuesday, this time in search of a plan to fix the country’s crumbling infrastructure.
It’s seen as the issue with the best chance for the two sides to work together this Congress — and even that isn’t given good odds for a fruitful ending.
Pelosi and Schumer sent Trump a letter in advance of the meeting outlining their priorities. They said they want to hear from him on how to pay for the improvements, sure to be a sticking point.
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