Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer emerged from their meeting with Donald Trump on infrastructure upbeat and optimistic, telling reporters that Trump had countered Democrats’ initial low-ball estimate. Schumer said Trump “was eager to push it up to $2 trillion, and that is a very good thing.”
“We came to this meeting with an understanding that there is great need in our country for rebuilding our infrastructure,” Pelosi told reporters immediately after the meeting. Schumer added, “There was good will in this meeting.” Both, answering a question about House investigations and Trump’s stonewalling, proved that they are part of the walk-and-chew-gum conference. “We are here to do something for the American people,” Pelosi told reporters. Schumer said, “I believe we can do both at once.” Pressed on whether investigations or infrastructure is a higher priority, Pelosi answered, “Our priority is to honor our responsibilities under the Constitution of the United States.”
Trump’s cooperativeness and enthusiasm might be short-lived. His acting chief of staff and sometime puppet-master Mick Mulvaney was across the country taking potshots during the meetings. He’s attending a conference in California, but took time to shoot down the prospects for any deal because Democrats are so focused on investigations and impeachment. The Washington Post reports that he said that “he’d be fascinated to see whether the meeting stays on topic.” It did, according to Schumer. “In previous meetings,” he said “the president has said ‘if these investigations continue, I can’t work with you.’ He didn’t bring it up.” And neither did the Democrats.
The Democrats have effectively spun this meeting to show that they’re right there to work with Trump, and if it fails, it’s not going to be their fault. It’s smart positioning, considering that the big problem in getting this done is going to be Mitch McConnell’s Senate. They’ve effectively put themselves on Trump’s side on this one, potentially pitting him against both Mulvaney and McConnell. It’s not a bad move, given the polling on infrastructure. It’s pretty much universally popular in the ongoing Civiqs survey on it, currently clocking in with 75 percent support.
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