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A high-profile, national conversation about comprehensive infrastructure policy has been missing since President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ended their negotiations on a possible $2 trillion measure at the White House in May.
Since those discussions collapsed, the speaker has pressed forward with investigations into the president’s 2016 presidential campaign, his tax returns and his handling of the government. House committees have discussed infrastructure and climate change policy but stop short of producing legislation. Pelosi, caught in a feud with an aspect of her caucus, recently told reporters that “hopefully the president will still want to do infrastructure.”
Trump, who campaigned as a builder, has not really mentioned infrastructure policy since May.
Immigration has been his issue du jour. Trump responded to growing criticism of his policy by declaring on social media children’s detention centers are “well run and clean.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), a presidential aspirant, expressed her disagreement of Trump’s approach to immigration, arguing that it overshadowed other national concerns, such as infrastructure. (Reminder: In 2017, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the country’s overall infrastructure system a “D+” grade.)
The senator said on ABC’s “This Week” over the weekend the White House’s move to deport certain individuals was “about scaring everyone in the country and it is also about changing the news from things like pharmaceutical prices that are going up at record levels, and this president has made endless promises that he’s going to do something about it or that he’s going to do something about infrastructure.”
Klobuchar, a member of the Commerce Committee with jurisdiction over the trucking industry, is among the few major candidates for the White House job in 2020 to unveil a plan for fixing and modernizing the country’s transportation network. Earlier this year, she proposed providing $650 billion for infrastructure.
“There have been repeated efforts for bipartisan compromises on a number of things like infrastructure, like pushing on the pharmaceutical prices, like doing something on immigration reform and instead he likes to govern by tweet,” she said, adding, “I have been in the Senate long enough, including when George [W.] Bush was president, to see that you can get things done when people of good faith want to work together for the good of this country.”
The Week Ahead (all times Eastern)
July 15-16: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration hosts a meeting of the medical review board.
July 15, 1:30 p.m.: The Brookings Institution hosts the eighth annual Municipal Finance Conference.
July 15, 4 p.m.: The House Oversight and Reform Committee hosts a hearing titled, “Violations of the Hatch Act Under the Trump Administration Part II: Kellyanne Conway.”
July 16, 9 a.m.: The Washington Post’s Robert Costa interviews Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
July 16, 10 a.m.: The Senate Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women’s Issues Subcommittee meets to examine concerns in Central America.
July 16, 10 a.m.: The House Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee examines the livestock and poultry industries.
July 16, 10 a.m.: The House Oversight and Reform Committee examines the Trump administration’s response to the hurricanes in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
July 16, 10 a.m.: The House Select Climate Crisis Committee hosts a hearing titled, “Solving the Climate Crisis: Cleaning Up Heavy Duty Vehicles, Protecting Communities.”
July 16, 10 a.m.: The House Highways and Transit Subcommittee hosts a hearing on federal transit grants.
July 16, noon: The Heritage Foundation hosts a panel discussion titled, “Justice on Trial: The Kavanaugh Confirmation and the Future of the Supreme Court.”
July 17, 6 p.m.: Busboys and Poets hosts a discussion with Rep. Ayanna S. Pressley (D-Mass.).
July 18, 10:30 a.m.: The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee hosts a hearing on the farm bill.
July 18, 4 p.m.: The Washington Council of Lawyers hosts a conversation with Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan.
July 18, 7 p.m.: Politics and Prose Bookstore hosts a discussion with Tim Alberta, author of, “American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump.”
The possible work in the Senate on the FAST Act reauthorization has given off the impression that perhaps there could be some progress on advancing infrastructure policy matters.
In Case You Missed It
During confusing times in our 24/7 media culture, some people turn to one man for analysis.
Who’s New (Amazonification edition)
Good news for Amazon: Virginia is a wonderful state for business. That’s according to CNBC’s new ranking of states as it pertains to doing business. The Old Dominion topped the list, primarily due to its “great workforce and strong education.” Both of those categories received an “A+” grade. Its infrastructure received a “B+.” It’s worth noting infrastructure improvement projects are underway in Arlington County, across from the nation’s capital, ahead of the arrival of Amazon’s HQ2 to the area. The CNBC report also noted the state’s cost of living is “extremely high.” The category was issued a “D+” grade. Texas, North Carolina, Utah and Washington ranked in the top five behind Virginia.
Worth a mention that the U.S. DOT is operating without a deputy secretary.
Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) wants the world to know his panel will be the “first out of the gate” on reauthorizing highway legislation.
A woke RuPaul
You’re not stuck in traffic, you are the traffic. pic.twitter.com/nXQlBPImEy— RuPaul (@RuPaul) July 9, 2019
The Last Word
You heard Ralph say that I came as an 8-year-old. And when I arrived in New York Harbor on a cargo ship after a 37-day ocean journey, my first view was the Statue of Liberty.
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao on June 28 at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference. Ralph Reed is the group’s founder.