Mick Mulvaney casts doubt on Trump's infrastructure deal with Democrats

But Trump and Democrats agreed to move forward with the major infrastructure bill, saying talks went well

Published April 30, 2019 4:17PM (EDT)

Mick Mulvaney (AP/Evan Vucci)
Mick Mulvaney (AP/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump's acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney cast doubt on the likelihood of passing an infrastructure deal Tuesday as his boss met with congressional Democrats at the White House to discuss an agreement.

"Do I think there's an interest in doing it? Yes. Do I think there's probably more interest, especially on the Democrats' part, to make a show for trying to get a deal? Yeah," Mulvaney said during an onstage interview with Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo at the Milken Institute's annual Global Conference in California.

"I hope that conversations go well today, but if they don't it would not surprise me," Mulvaney continued, adding that he believes, "there's a much better chance of getting the [renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement] passed than getting an infrastructure deal passed."

Mulvaney poured cold water on the prospects of moving forward with a $2 trillion infrastructure bill shortly before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., emerged from discussions with Trump, which they said was productive.

Pelosi told reporters Tuesday outside the White House that both sides had "come to one agreement: that the agreement would be big and bold."

Pelosi and Schumer, who have had a contentious relationship with Trump in recent months, said they and the White House had not agreed on how to pay for the major infrastructure legislation and will meet with the president again next month how to finance it.

The Democratic leaders said they and Trump had agreed the plan should be "big and bold," and would focus on roads, bridges, highways, water, the power grid and broadband internet connection.

"We told the president we needed his ideas on funding," Schumer said.

Pelosi and Schumer said the ongoing battles between the White House and Democrats over special counsel Robert Mueller's report into foreign interference in the 2016 presidential election, as well as congressional Democrats' various wide-ranging probes into the Trump administration and the president's business entities, did not hinder progress.

"In previous meetings, the president has said, 'If these investigations continue, I can't work with you.' He didn't bring it up," Schumer said. "The two are not mutually exclusive and we were glad he didn't make it that way."

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement after the meeting, which she called "excellent and productive."

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

She also said Trump and Democratic leaders would meet again in the "near future" to discuss prescription drug prices, in addition to the separate follow-up meeting on infrastructure funding.

The outcome of Tuesday's meeting was somewhat of a shock given Mulvaney's comments, as well as Pelosi and Schumer's previous meeting with Trump last winter related to funding for his proposed "wall" along the U.S.-Mexico border, which was followed by the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.

Schumer called Tuesday's meeting "a very good start, and we hope it will go to a constructive conclusion," adding, "there was good will in this meeting … which is different than some of the other meetings we have had, which is a good thing."

By Shira Tarlo

MORE FROM Shira Tarlo