Hours after a deadly Amtrak derailment in Washington, President Donald Trump on Monday pushed his "soon to be submitted" infrastructure plan as a way to prevent future tragedies.
“The train accident that just occurred in DuPont, WA shows more than ever why our soon to be submitted infrastructure plan must be approved quickly. Seven trillion dollars spent in the Middle East while our roads, bridges, tunnels, railways (and more) crumble! Not for long!” Trump tweeted in his first remarks responding to the accident.
Trump’s tweet is misleading on a number of fronts. His plan to rebuild America's infrastructure has been delayed several times over, and there are questions about what's in it and how it will be funded. And although it's not clear what caused Monday's deadly incident, it wasn't a case of crumbling infrastructure — it happened on recently renovated tracks.
No infrastructure plan yet
Trump vowed to introduce legislation that would spur a $1 trillion investment into American infrastructure during his first hundred days as president. That deadline has long since come and gone. Trump never put forth a proposal, and his party set out to tackle health care and taxes first, pushing infrastructure to the back burner. In May, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said a proposal was imminent, though the goal was for the third quarter of the year. This deadline, too, has passed.
There’s also confusion about what the plan will actually look like. After his team initially said that the $1 trillion would largely consist of public-private partnerships, Trump told lawmakers in September that he felt those partnerships were “more trouble than they’re worth,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
Amid attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare, the president has focused little on infrastructure. The last big push was an "Infrastructure Week" in June. While light on policy proposals, it was meant to serve as the White House’s counterprogramming to the blockbuster congressional testimony of former FBI chief James Comey, but the president steamrolled the week with off-topic speeches and tweets.
A few weeks later, Congress reauthorized the Federal Aviation Administration, keeping air traffic control under federal purview in a direct contradiction to Trump, who supported privatizing it.
Trump proposed cutting Amtrak funding
A president's budget proposal can help distinguish policy priorities from campaign rhetoric. The White House's May budget blueprint called for a nearly 13 percent reduction to the Department of Transportation's discretionary transportation budget, including a $630 million cut to subsidies for long-distance Amtrak routes, according to the Washington Post. His budget included no sign of the plan he promised on the campaign and in his first months in office.
While the White House has previously insisted that policy conversations shouldn't start immediately after tragedies — instead allowing time for mourning and consoling — it took Trump another 10 minutes after pushing his legislative agenda for him to offer up further response.
“My thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved in the train accident in DuPont, Washington. Thank you to all of our wonderful First Responders who are on the scene. We are currently monitoring here at the White House," he tweeted.