Trump Is Said to Abandon Plan for Council on Infrastructure

Trump had tapped New York developers Richard LeFrak and Steven Roth, whom he described as friends, to lead the infrastructure panel.

(Bloomberg)—President Donald Trump will not move forward with a planned Advisory Council on Infrastructure, a person familiar with the matter said Thursday.

The infrastructure council, which was still being formed, would have advised Trump on his plan to spend as much as $1 trillion upgrading roads, bridges and other public works. Its cancellation follows Trump’s announcement Wednesday that he was disbanding two other business advisory panels.

Corporate chief executive officers this week had started to quit both the American Manufacturing Council and the Strategic and Policy Forum in protest over Trump’s remarks that appeared to confer legitimacy on white supremacists following 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 lead the infrastructure panel, which he established 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 real estate, finance, labor and other sectors, was designed to study and make recommendations to the president regarding the funding, support and delivery of infrastructure projects.

Trump reignited controversy about his response 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 intended to accelerate the review and permitting process for major construction projects. While announcing that order at Trump Tower in New York, the president took questions from reporters and repeated his position that both the white-supremacist groups and those who protested them were to blame.

Amid outcry over his remarks, Trump announced on Twitter that he was disbanding the two CEO councils.

Trump’s Timetable

The impact of scuttling the infrastructure panel wasn’t immediately clear. Gary Cohn, Trump’s top economic adviser, told reporters Tuesday that the administration hopes to get an infrastructure bill approved this year. An as-yet unwritten tax bill would go 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 having 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 it’s going to come in on time, under budget, maybe even ahead of schedule,” Trump said during the speech.

The administration has said it intends to have details on its infrastructure plan this fall but has signaled the approach will be to allocate $200 billion in federal dollars on rural and “transformational” projects over 10 years and on incentives for states, localities, and the private sector to spend $800 billion.

--With assistance from Justin Sink.To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Niquette in Columbus at [email protected] To contact the editors responsible for this story: John Voskuhl at [email protected] Alexis Leondis


© 2017 Bloomberg L.P

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