Deriding Democrats as “obstructionists” for their unwillingness to help him repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, President Donald Trump on Wednesday called on both parties to come together on in support of a major overall of U.S. infrastructure, even as he conceded that such bipartisanship seemed unlikely.
Among Trump’s myriad campaign promises, a major investment in infrastructure was one that received perhaps the warmest response from Democrats, long the party that has historically backed such projects. But the president’s actual infrastructure proposals thus far have come via a bare-bones outline in his administration’s budget proposal, and the White House has up to this point placed more emphasis on undoing Obamacare and pushing an overhaul of the U.S. tax code.
“That’s why I’m calling on all Democrats – who honestly have really been obstructionists. Boy, have they tried. I mean every single thing. On health care, I won’t get one vote. Obamacare’s crashing. It’s dead,” the president said in a speech delivered from the banks of the Ohio River in Cincinnati. “I don’t think, you know, honestly, if I were in that party, I wouldn’t be doing it that way. I’d be doing positive things. That’s why they lost the House. They lost the Senate. They lost the White House.”
“People don’t want to see what’s going on. They want to see us all come together but I just don’t see them coming together,” the president continued. “They’re obstructionists. I’m calling on all Democrats and Republicans to join together, if that’s possible, in the great rebuilding of America.”
Recalling the relatively brief amount of time it took to construct the Hoover Dam and Golden Gate Bridge, Trump lamented the length of time modern infrastructure projects require. He also celebrated the green-lighting of the Keystone XL pipeline and the completion of the Dakota Access pipeline, both controversial projects halted by the administration of President Barack Obama.
Of the latter, Trump said that he expected to “take a lot of heat, and I took none. Actually none. People respected that I approved it. But I take so much heat for nonsense that it probably overrode it the other. It’s like a decoy.”
With a barge full of what the president identified as West Virginia coal behind him, Trump touted the reduced regulations that he said would benefit not just the coal industry, but also the steel industry and other blue collar industries he promised to champion throughout his 2016 campaign, transition and into his presidency. Slow repair work on canals and locks on inland waterways cannot be tolerated, he said, because of how valuable those routes are for the U.S. economy.
He also pledged, as he has in the past, to crack down on foreign governments that he has accused of taking advantage of the U.S., and especially the U.S. steel industry, in international trade.
“Wait until you see what I’m going to do for steel for your steel companies,” he said. “We are going to stop the dumping and all of these wonderful other countries from coming in and killing our companies and our workers. You’ll be seeing that very soon.”
While Trump’s speech came amid the White House’s planned “infrastructure week,” dedicated to promoting the president’s promised revamping of the nation’s roads, bridges and tunnels, the remarks were relatively light on policy specifics and the White House has yet to put out a full, comprehensive proposal to make good on Trump’s infrastructure campaign promises.
Still, the president promised to “create the first class infrastructure our country and our people deserve.”
“The theft of American prosperity has come to a screeching halt, folks. And a new era of American greatness is about to begin. And you see it, it’s already beginning,” Trump said. “We will not, so importantly, be content to let our nation become a museum of former glories. We will construct incredible new monuments to American grit that inspire wonder for generations and generations to come. We will build because our people want to build and because we need them to build. We will build because our prosperity demands it.”