President Trump abruptly walked out of a meeting at the White House with Democratic Congressional leaders today (May 22) in what was supposed to be a second round of talks on a potential $2 trillion infrastructure package.
After an initial meeting three weeks ago, many believed the summit between the President and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and other Democratic members of Congress would finally get down to the business of discussing options for paying for the massive package, including potentially raising the federal gas tax.
But accusations from Democrats related to the Russia investigations caused Trump to change his mind about meeting.
“I said, ‘Let’s have the meeting on infrastructure. We’ll get that done easily, that’s one of the easy ones,’” according to a transcript of Trump’s remarks made to reporters outside the White House following the walk-out.
But after hearing that Pelosi, just before the meeting, had accused him of engaging in a cover-up, “instead of walking in happily to a meeting, I walk in to look at people that had just said that I was doing a cover-up,” Trump said. “I don’t do cover-ups. You people know that probably better than anybody. It turns out I’m the most…transparent president, probably in the history of this country.”
Trump said he told Schumer and Pelosi that he wanted to “do infrastructure more than you want to do it, that’s what I do. But you know what? You can’t do it under these circumstances. So get these phony investigations over with.”
The American Trucking Associations (ATA), along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and labor groups, have pushed for increasing the gas tax to pay for the FAST Act surface transportation reauthorization. After news of the failed meeting, ATA President and CEO Chris Spear urged the two sides to get back to the bargaining table.
“With the unpredictability of today’s political climate in Washington, the only certain forecast is that our nation’s roads and traffic will get worse, the economy will slow, and fewer Americans will have jobs until politicians step up and address this critical issue,” Spear said in a statement.
“The House and Senate are about to begin drafting a transportation bill, and truckers will continue to support these efforts. We hope the President and Congressional leaders resume productive discussions to solve this.”