“It’s infrastructure week!”
Now, it really is — or so says Joe Biden. But let us remember an earlier time, before the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill last week, and before Democrats spent every week of the past several months haggling with each other to get their reconciliation package across the finish line.
We’re taking you back to the Trump era, when “infrastructure week” was a punchline rather than a reference to the actual sausage-making behind infrastructure negotiations.
A simpler time? Not so much.
Flash back to May 2019: Trump meets with then-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for a second discussion about infrastructure. This summit came about a month after their long-awaited first meeting, which then-White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders would later describe as an “excellent” and “productive” conversation. Although Trump and the Democratic leaders agreed on a $2 trillion investment in roads, bridges and rural broadband, the group didn’t get into any hard specifics during that first meeting.
So the second meeting arrived full of promise. But then, almost immediately, all hope for an infrastructure bill was dashed. The then-President stormed out — after just three minutes. Trump and the Democratic leaders reportedly barely touched on infrastructure before the then-President threw a fit.
Trump, that day, was enraged over congressional Democrats’ efforts to investigate him, including subpoenaing his banking records. Some in Pelosi’s caucus also wanted to begin impeachment proceedings in the wake of the Mueller probe. In May 2019, the Speaker was still fending those members off.
“We do believe that it’s important to follow the facts. We believe that no one is above the law, including the president of the United States, and we believe that the president of the United States is engaged in a cover-up,” Pelosi said before heading to the White House.
The “cover-up” comment was, apparently, what set Trump off.
“Instead of walking in happily to a meeting, I walk in to look at people that just said that I was doing a ‘cover-up.’ I don’t do ‘cover-ups,’” Trump griped inaccurately to reporters during a hastily called news conference in the White House Rose Garden shortly after his planned meeting with Schumer and Pelosi. He stood at a lectern with a sign reading “No Collusion, No Obstruction.”
Trump claimed that he told Democratic leaders that he “wants to do infrastructure” — but just not “under these circumstances.”
“I walked into the room and I told Sen. Schumer and Speaker Pelosi, ‘I want to do infrastructure’ … but we can’t do it under these circumstances,” Trump told reporters while declaring that infrastructure talks were off the table.
Fast forward to yesterday, when Trump went after the 13 House Republicans who dared to help Democrats pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill — a bill that presumably included provisions that could have been his to tout, two years earlier.
While continuing his attacks against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who was among the 19 GOP senators who helped pass BIF earlier this year, Trump in a statement sidestepped the fact that he had thwarted his own chances of reaching a bipartisan deal on infrastructure during his presidency.
“Why is it that Old Crow Mitch McConnell voted for a terrible Democrat Socialist Infrastructure Plan, and induced others in his Party to do likewise, when he was incapable of getting a great Infrastructure Plan wanting to be put forward by me and the Republican Party?” Trump said in a statement on Tuesday.