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Trump pushes infrastructure plan as Russia probe heats up
June 7, 2017 / 5:32 PM / 5 months ago

Trump pushes infrastructure plan as Russia probe heats up

CINCINNATI, Ohio, June 7 (Reuters) - President Donald Trump on Wednesday promoted plans for $1 trillion in U.S. infrastructure spending aimed at boosting jobs and the economy in a move that could shift attention from a probe into alleged ties between his campaign and Russia.

“It is time to rebuild our country, to bring back our jobs, to restore our dreams, and yes, to put America first,” Trump said, according to excerpts released by the White House.

“We are going to restore America’s industrial might, creating the jobs and tax base to put new infrastructure all over this country.”

Speaking in Cincinnati, Ohio, Trump reviewed a proposal announced earlier this year to leverage $200 billion in his budget proposal into a $1 trillion of projects to privatize the air traffic control system, strengthen rural infrastructure and repair bridges, roads and waterways.

Trump is pointing to a government program that allows the private sector to tap into low-cost government loans called the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act as a way to leverage federal funds with state, local, and private sector funding.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said at a Senate hearing on Wednesday that administration plans to unveil a detailed legislative proposal by the end of September.

The Ohio visit was the second leg of a week-long White House focus on infrastructure. On Monday the president proposed spinning off air traffic control from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The proposal to privatize air traffic control has run into skepticism and opposition from Democratic senators and some Republicans.

The infrastructure push comes as the White House seeks to refocus attention on core promises to boost jobs and the economy that Trump made last year during his presidential campaign.

Those pledges have been eclipsed by the furor over Russia’s alleged meddling in the election. That drama will come to a head on Thursday when former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey, who was leading the Russia probe until Trump fired him last month, testifies before a Senate panel.

Trump has denied any collusion between Russia and his campaign. He has struggled to keep the spotlight on plans that could give him a political boost. (Writing by David Shepardson; Editing by Chris Sanders and Cynthia Osterman)

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