President Donald Trump won’t proceed with a planned Advisory Council on Infrastructure, a person familiar with the matter said Thursday.
The infrastructure council, which was being formed, would have informed Trump on his plan to invest up to $1 trillion upgrading roads, bridges and other public works. Its cancellation follows Trump’ announcement Wednesday that he had been disbanding two business panels.
Corporate chief executive officers this week had begun to stop both the American Manufacturing Council and the Strategic and Policy Forum in protest over Trump’s opinions that appeared to confer legitimacy on white supremacists after a violent rally Aug. 12 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Trump had tapped New York developers Richard LeFrak and Steven Roth, whom he described as friends, to direct the infrastructure panel, which he created by an executive order on July 19. But he had not announced any formal appointments to it. Through a spokeswoman, LeFrak declined to comment. Roth didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The council, which was supposed to have no more than 15 members representing property, finance, labour and other sectors, was developed to study and make recommendations to the president concerning delivery, support and the funding of infrastructure projects.
Trump reignited controversy to the violence in Charlottesville during a press conference on Tuesday that was supposed to be about his infrastructure plans.
He signed an executive order this week that’s meant to accelerate the review and permitting process for major building projects. While announcing that arrangement at Trump Tower in New York, the president took questions from reporters and repeated his stance that the white-supremacist groups were to blame.
Amid outcry over his opinions, Trump announced on Twitter that he disbanded both CEO councils.
The effects of scuttling the infrastructure panel wasn’t clear. Gary Cohn, Trump’s top economic adviser, told reporters Tuesday that the administration hopes to obtain an infrastructure bill approved. An unwritten tax bill goes first, Cohn said, with the aim of passing it by Thanksgiving. An infrastructure bill could start in the House as soon as a tax measure moves from the House to the Senate, he said.
Trump had lauded with the input of private-sector builders in delivering his infrastructure plan. He called out LeFrak of the LeFrak Organization and Roth, chairman of Vornado Realty Trust, during a June 7 speech in Cincinnati as part of the White House’s “infrastructure week” to praise their participation.
“Make sure #x 2019 & it;s going to come in under budget, on time, maybe even ahead of schedule,” Trump said during the speech.
The administration has said it plans to get details on its infrastructure plan this fall but has signaled the approach is to allocate $200 billion in federal dollars on rural and “transformational” projects within 10 years and on incentives for states, localities, and the private sector to spend $800 billion.
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