Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the Senate’s number two Republican, said in an interview on Tuesday that he does not know if Congress can pass President Donald Trump’s promised infrastructure package.
Sen. Cornyn said, “It will be challenging. I certainly would be happy if we could, but we’ve got a lot of things to do, that being one of them, and I don’t know if we will have time to get to that.”
Lindsay Walter, White House deputy press secretary, said that Trump expects Congress to enact his infrastructure bill.
“The president presented his infrastructure outline earlier this month and has charged Congress with moving as quickly as possible to rebuild our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, an issue that 84 percent of Americans consider a top priority,” Walter argued.
The White House released its infrastructure outline in February; Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao will testify before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Thursday.
Trump’s infrastructure plan would have the federal government spend $200 billion to induce the states, localities, and private sector to spend $1.3 trillion to upgrade America’s roads, airports, and other public works.
A spokesman for Sen. John Barrasso (R-WI), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said that the chairman “continues to work on robust, fiscally responsible infrastructure legislation.” Mike Danylak, the spokesman, added that the committee already held ten hearings on infrastructure-related issues.
In contrast, House Transporation Committee chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) believes that Congress can pass such a package this year, according to spokesman Justin Harclerode. Shuster previously said the bill will be ready “closer to summer.”
House Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) criticized the Senate’s lack of movement on the infrastructure package.
“They may need to get in two or three naps between now and then,” Meadows remarked.
“Going home at this point and saying there is not enough time between now and November to do an infrastructure bill may not be the best message,” the House Freedom Caucus chairman added.
Sen. John Thune (R-SD), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, also admitted that passing an infrastructure package might be an uphill battle.
Thune said, “It could be challenging to get an infrastructure bill done in light of everything else we have to do.”
Sen. Thune suggested paying for the infrastructure package “is a big problem.”
Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) said in a statement that there remains hope for Republicans to pass an infrastructure package.
Inhofe said, “Any time you work on a big, bipartisan bill it will be challenging, but you can’t write it off because of that. There is a bipartisan desire to get infrastructure done, and we’ve started the work to do it.”