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Trump says he and Nancy Pelosi are still talking about an elusive infrastructure deal: 'They want it, I want it'

Kevin Breuninger
U.S. President Donald Trump talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as they walk down the U.S. Capitol steps on March 14, 2019.

President Donald Trump said he wants to work with Democrats to pass legislation to rebuild U.S. infrastructure, a long-held goal of his administration that has yet to materialize.

Trump, in an interview with Fox Business Network that aired Friday, said infrastructure is "the easiest thing" his White House can hope to achieve by working with Democrats.

"They want it, I want it," Trump said, adding that he spoke to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "the other day" about the issue.

A spokesman for Pelosi confirmed to CNBC that the speaker and Trump "briefly spoke about infrastructure" during an annual St. Patrick's Day luncheon on March 14.

"The Speaker has repeatedly said she wants to work with him on this issue," added the spokesman, who declined to comment further on the details of the private conversation.

Trump went further in the interview, which was conducted Thursday, saying "we agree on it" and "we like the type of infrastructure we're talking about."

The president added: "Maybe in a certain way more Democrats, from my standpoint, than the Republican concept, private, public. I like, frankly, owning our own roads, owning our bridges. I don't like selling them to other countries."

The need to repair or rebuild America's roads, bridges, buildings, tunnels and other structures has been pushed by Trump since his presidential campaign, and is broadly supported on both sides of the political aisle. America's overall infrastructure received a dismal "D+" grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers in its latest report card in 2017.

But the parties diverge on how to fund the pricey investment. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a Washington Post op-ed in December that he would not accept an infrastructure bill that did not address climate change.

"Any infrastructure bill would have to include policies and funding that help transition our country to a clean-energy economy and mitigate the risks the United States already faces from climate change," Schumer wrote.

Pelosi mentioned her holiday event conversation with the president in remarks to reporters Wednesday. She suggested she was open to working with Trump on addressing both infrastructure and opioid crisis.

"Those are two areas that are our priorities that he says he wants to do," said Pelosi, D-Calif. "So we shall see, but we want to try to find our common ground."