Trump’s Transportation chief sits down with GOP members to talk infrastructure

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao sat down with House lawmakers on Capitol Hill Friday morning to discuss President’s Trump $1 trillion infrastructure package, which is expected to be unveiled this summer. During a breakfast meeting, Republican members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee heard the latest update from the administration about Trump’s effort to upgrade U.S. roads, bridges and airports. The meeting comes after Trump released a tax plan this week that did not set aside money for infrastructure, as some had hoped. “It was pretty informal. We talked about the infrastructure package,” Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) told The Hill. “The problem is we don’t have any specifics.” Lawmakers were told that Trump plans to include $200 billion in his budget that will be “leveraged” into his infrastructure proposal. Trump’s budget chief echoed a similar sentiment last week.

Congress will not consider the infrastructure bill, however, until after lawmakers tackle tax reform and healthcare — likely this summer. Graves said the administration may still use revenues in Trump’s tax proposal to help pay for the transportation effort.

Transportation Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) said Thursday that the two issues "need to be linked or close together."

"That's the way we're going to figure out the payment for it," he said. "There's got to be a relationship. Better to figure the revenue before we figure out the policy." Chao also briefed members on Friday about new top-level positions at the department that are being created to help oversee some of Trump's priorities. Chao intends to appoint Transportation Department chief of staff Michael Britt to be a senior adviser for Federal Aviation Administration modernization and James Ray to be a senior adviser on infrastructure. The meeting was described as positive and collaborative, according to someone familiar with it, and touched on everything from infrastructure financing to the emergency response efforts after the 1-85 bridge collapse in Atlanta.