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Poof! There goes another Infrastructure Week.

Dana Milbank on

WASHINGTON -- As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer sat down with President Trump at the White House on Tuesday to talk about an infrastructure bill, Trump's acting chief of staff explained why they were wasting their time.

"Is an infrastructure deal realistic in 2019?" Fox Business Network's Maria Bartiromo asked Mick Mulvaney onstage at a Milken Institute event in California.

"Uhhh," Mulvaney replied with a doubtful smile. He said Democrats want to "make a show," but agreement "breaks down" over the administration's determination to change environmental laws and other regulations. Anything else is "not acceptable to this president," Mulvaney said, predicting that even the embattled trade deal Trump negotiated with Mexico and Canada has "a much better chance" of approval than an infrastructure deal.

Poof! There goes another Infrastructure Week.

For more than two years, Trump has been trying to roll out a giant infrastructure plan, as he promised during the campaign. At every step, the idea has faltered.

In June 2017, Trump pitched the framework of an infrastructure plan -- but former FBI director James B. Comey's testimony before the Senate immediately overshadowed the effort.

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Trump tried again in August 2017 -- but Trump's response to the racist violence in Charlottesville totally eclipsed the effort.

A third attempt came in February 2018 -- and was trampled by the resignation of a White House official over domestic-abuse allegations, the Parkland, Florida, shooting, the indictment of Russian internet trolls and allegations of affairs by Trump.

With those and other false starts, "Infrastructure Week" has become a euphemism for the erratic nature of Trump's presidency, which is in constant crisis but rarely gets stuff done. Each attempt to rally support for urgently needed infrastructure spending has been stepped on -- usually by Trump himself.

The online Urban Dictionary defines Infrastructure Week as "a repeatedly failed attempt to stay on-task endlessly derailed by high-profile distractions caused by one's own ineptitude." National Journal reports some confusion between the original Infrastructure Week, an industry conference each May, and "the White House's many futile attempts at its own."

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