Happening Now

Fallout from dismissal of FBI Director could grind Congressional action on infrastructure to a halt

May 10, 2017

Concerns over President Donald Trump’s dismissal of James Comey from his post as the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation has stalled congressional action on drafting an FY2018 budget, and could bode poorly for an infrastructure bill that has been promised by Trump’s White House.

While concern over the firing has been vocalized by both parties, the Democrats have taken action. In procedural moves taken earlier today, Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) objected to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) unanimous consent request to allow committee hearings, and Senate Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) objected, specifically, to a meeting of the Senate Committee on Aging. While the GOP-controlled House of Representatives could proceed ahead without Democratic participation, the U.S. Senate requires minority consent for most actions, and Democratic objections could slow proceedings to a crawl.

The Senate was scheduled to take up the House’s healthcare bill, and GOP leadership had targeted an ambitious overhaul of the tax code for the summer months. With Russia inquiries roiling both bodies and the looming August recess, chances for a fruitful, bipartisan negotiation over how to address the alarming deficit in infrastructure investment through the FY2018 budget are rapidly receding—to say nothing of the trillion dollar infrastructure bill that President Trump campaigned on.

Passengers can find some comfort in the recent passage of the FY2017 budget extension, which included hundreds of millions of dollars in additional investment in intercity rail and transit, and will continue over into FY2018 if congress is unable to meet the September 31, 2017 deadline for passing a new budget.