WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump will use an appearance in Cincinnati on Wednesday to talk about the nation’s aging system of levees, dams, and locks.
Trump plans to speak at the Rivertowne Marina at 1 p.m. as part of a broader push by the White House to pivot to infrastructure policy, as other White House legislative priorities have stalled.
This is Trump's first visit to Cincinnati as president, though he made Cincinnati his first stop on a post-election 'thank-you' tour last December.
It’s not clear whether Trump will address the Cincinnati area’s biggest transportation problem: the dilapidated and overcrowded Brent Spence Bridge. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump vowed to replace the often-congested bridge over the Ohio River though he was vague about how he would pay for that.
But a top White House adviser said Trump’s speech in Cincinnati on Wednesday would be about waterways, not bridges.
“We have 12,000 miles of inland waterways in the United States,” Gary Cohn, director of Trump’s National Economic Council, told a group of infrastructure reporters on Sunday. “It's a critical component of our nation's transportation infrastructure. It relies primarily on federal funding and includes levees, dams, locks, and ports. They're all getting old right now and they're not as efficient as they could be."
At a White House briefing on Monday, spokeswoman Sarah Sanders did not offer any specifics on Trump's waterways plan, but said the president will "speak about his wide-ranging vision for rebuilding our country, with a special focus on repairing our 12,000-mile inland waterway system."
The White House kicked off its weeklong promotion of Trump’s infrastructure proposals on Monday, starting with a long-shot plan to privatize the nation's air traffic control system.
Trump and other administration officials will also call on states, cities and private companies to pay more for rebuilding roads, bridges, railways, airports and other types of infrastructure. In addition to Wednesday’s speech in Cincinnati, the White House schedule this week includes meetings with members of Congress on infrastructure and an “infrastructure summit” at the White House on Thursday with some governors and mayors.
Some Democrats blasted Trump’s infrastructure proposals as miserly and underwhelming. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, said in a tweet that Trump "is NOT proposing money for infrastructure. It's tax cuts for financiers, privatizing public property. Not infrastructure."
The Senate's top Democrat, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, said Trump's infrastructure ideas boil down to "privatization," which means "less construction and far fewer jobs, particularly in rural areas. It means Trump tolls from one end of America to the other."
Trump won Ohio last November by 8 percentage points over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
President Barack Obama's first visit to Cincinnati after winning Ohio in 2008 was in September of 2009. He spoke to 4,000 people at Riverbend’s P&G Pavilion during the Cincinnati AFL-CIO’s annual Labor Day picnic.
Contributing: David Jackson and Bart Jansen