WASHINGTON — Attempting a policy reset, President Donald Trump will push for upgrades to the nation’s aging roads and bridges Thursday in his first public appearance since an adult-film actress claimed on national TV that they had sex months after his wife gave birth to his fifth child.
Trump is visiting Richfield, Ohio, to sell Americans on his plan to use $200 billion in federal money to spur at least $1.5 trillion in spending over a decade to repair or replace highways, bridges, ports, airports and other infrastructure.
Trump unveiled the sweeping infrastructure proposal in February and cast it as one that could garner bipartisan support. But the plan relies heavily on state and local governments for the bulk of the spending, raising concerns among members of Congress about the possibility of higher commuter tolls and the sale of assets to raise the money.
There is little expectation that Congress will take up a sweeping infrastructure proposal along the lines of what Trump envisions — or that Republicans in control of the House and Senate will write their own legislation — as lawmakers begin to shift their focus to the challenge of getting re-elected in November.
Instead, Congress plans to package a series of related measures, including beefed-up spending in the big budget bill Trump signed into law last week, as infrastructure investments. That bill, which funds the government through Sept. 30, included more money for transportation projects, rural broadband and other investments.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., promoted it in a tweet as “Long-overdue updates to our country’s infrastructure.”
Trump was last seen in public on Friday, when he used an appearance at the White House to criticize a massive government funding bill he had signed into law. The president, first lady Melania Trump and their 12-year-old son, Barron, spent last weekend at their Palm Beach, Florida, estate. Trump returned to the White House on Sunday shortly before CBS’ “60 Minutes” aired its interview with porn actress Stormy Daniels, who says the married Trump had sex with her in his Lake Tahoe hotel room in 2006.
Trump, through his personal attorney and White House aides, has denied the affair. He has not commented on the allegations himself.
The president has kept a relatively low profile since the broadcast, except for a series of tweets about trade and his pending meeting with North Korea’s leader. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied Trump was in hiding.
“He’s been incredibly active all week long,” Sanders said, pointing to actions by Trump on trade and the expulsion of scores of Russian intelligence officials.
Trump has previously suggested the infrastructure proposal was not as important to him as other efforts to cut taxes and increase military spending.
“What was very important to me was the military, what was very important to me was the tax cuts, and what was very important to me was regulation,” Trump said as he unveiled the plan in February before state and local leaders gathered at the White House.
In Ohio, Trump was also expected to discuss findings in a new report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers that the infrastructure proposal would contribute modestly to economic growth over the 10-year period and help put hundreds of thousands of unemployed laborers back to work.
After the speech, Trump was expected to fly to his Florida home.
You can help your community
Quality, in-depth journalism is essential to a healthy community. The Dispatch brings you the most complete reporting and insightful commentary in the Golden Triangle, but we need your help to continue our efforts. Please consider subscribing to our website for only $2.30 per week to help support local journalism and our community.