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August 2, 2017 4:15 PM, EDT

Tax Reform to Overshadow Infrastructure Legislation This Year, Thune Says

Sen. Thune Sen. Thune by Chris Kleponis/Bloomberg News

WASHINGTON — The infrastructure legislative agenda that President Donald Trump promised to advance during the first months of his presidency likely will be delayed until next year, a top Republican in the Senate said Aug. 2.

“I suspect that infrastructure gets slotted sometime after [tax reform]. If we can get tax reform across the finish line, then I think you’ll see everybody start to focus on an infrastructure bill,” Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a member of his caucus’ leadership and chairman of the Commerce Committee, told reporters after a hearing.

“But I still think that could slip into next year just because those are fairly big and consequential items that will take a lot of time to get through,” Thune added, noting his committee would take aviation and autonomous vehicle policy bills in September.

The Republican-led Congress is expected to start advancing an overhaul of the tax code when lawmakers return to Washington, D.C., after the Labor Day holiday. Thune said he suspects the congressional summer recess to begin after the week ending Aug. 4. Members of Congress traditionally return to their districts in August.

The transportation panels are prepared to consider infrastructure authorizing legislation as soon as the administration presents to them a comprehensive plan this fall, Thune added.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao had assured Congress the legislative text for the infrastructure plan would be unveiled by September. She then clarified that the plan could be unveiled at the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the White House unveiled guiding “principles” for a $1 trillion, 10-year infrastructure funding plan that would propose $200 billion in federal funding to provide an incentive for $800 billion in private investments, streamline environmental regulations, promote tolling and encourage devolving federal funding responsibilities to the states.