Incoming Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer says he likes the sound of President-elect Donald Trump’s proposal of a major infrastructure plan, as long as it meets certain Democratic criteria.
“We think it should be large. He’s mentioned a trillion dollars. I told him that sounded good to me,” Schumer told ABC News' Jon Karl and Rick Klein during their podcast “Powerhouse Politics.”
But Democrats will insist that the package not be, for example, all tax breaks to investors.
“We’re not going to oppose something simply because it has the name Trump on it, but we will certainly not sacrifice our principles just to get something done,” he said.
Schumer also said Democrats can find common ground with the incoming president on trade, saying he doesn’t agree with all of Trump’s proposed solutions but does agree with his “diagnosis.”
“I’m more close to that than I am to Barack Obama or George Bush’s [positions], and so are a lot of Democrats,” Schumer said.
He noted that he has already had four or five conversations with Trump on his cellphone — most of them informal but cordial, like the time Trump called him on Thanksgiving Day, as Schumer passed by the president-elect’s golf course in the Bronx in New York City on his way to visit family in Connecticut.
“He said, ‘Well, they couldn’t build it for 29 years, and then I built it in a year,’” Schumer recounted, chuckling. (Work on the course reportedly began in 1998 under then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani but was delayed until Trump stepped in in 2010.)
One issue where Schumer and Trump will possibly butt heads is Russia: Trump has publicly doubted whether the country interfered in the U.S. vote. Schumer, on the other hand, was part of a bipartisan group of senators calling for a select committee whose sole purpose would be to investigate Russian meddling in this year’s elections.
While most Republicans have stayed silent or agreed with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who favors having the investigations go through existing committees, Schumer suggested there’s more bipartisan agreement behind closed doors.
“They know that Sen. McConnell had not come out for it, so they’re keeping their powder dry. But the informal chatter I get is they think it’s a good idea,” he said.
Listen to Powerhouse Politics here.