President Donald Trump, as part of his call for an infrastructure bill, will travel 400 miles to Cincinnati on Wednesday to push his plan to upgrade the United States’ inland waterway system of locks and dams.
His top White House aides, however, will be focused on what will happen less than two miles down Pennsylvania Avenue on Thursday, when James Comey is slated to deliver bombshell testimony about the former FBI director’s conversations with the President and his eventual firing.
The looming Comey testimony has all but stalled Trump’s legislative agenda, but the White House has tried to soldier on during what is will likely be a bruising week with a focus on infrastructure. A White House official tells CNN that Trump plans to pitch infrastructure as a nationwide problem in Ohio, as he speaks on the banks of the Ohio River.
Trump will connect the need for a boost in infrastructure investment to jobs and on Wednesday will be flanked by barges of West Virginia coal floating in the Ohio River, long a connection between coal in Kentucky and West Virginia and steel mills in western Pennsylvania.
Wednesday’s event, paired with Comey’s upcoming testimony, is part of the dual screen reality the Trump White House is currently operating in. Even as the White House tries to publicly focus on one issue, they are regularly knocked off course by news about Comey’s remarks and messages sent out by the President, often on Twitter.
Trump’s infrastructure plan relies heavily on tax cuts.
Though the President calls the plan a $1 trillion plan, Trump has previously proposed $200 billion in tax cuts that the White House and Trump administration hope will spur $1 trillion in infrastructure investment.
Trump will also propose grants for rural areas to repair crumbling bridges, roads and waterways, a White House official said, and more control for cities and states to do the work they feel needs to get done.
“A difference between the President’s proposal and Barack Obama’s Stimulus is the focus on accountability of how federal tax dollars will be spent,” the White House official said, referencing Obama’s 2009 spending bill. “The Stimulus approach resulted in states just substituting federal highway dollars for state dollars.”
Trump’s plan also looks to cut permitting time for infrastructure projects from 10 years to two years.
Trump will be joined in Cincinnati by a number of steel workers, coal miners and local construction workers, in addition to Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky, whose state will provide a backdrop for the President.