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Trump promises ‘first-class’ infrastructure system for US

CINCINNATI — Dogged by allegations in Washington, President Donald Trump traveled to friendlier territory Wednesday and promised to create a “first-class” system of roads, bridges and waterways by using $200 billion in public funds to generate $1 trillion in investment to pay for construction projects that most public officials agree are badly needed and long overdue.

“America must have the best, fastest and most reliable infrastructure anywhere in the world,” Trump said, pushing his infrastructure plan in middle America as Washington geared up for Thursday’s appearance before Congress by fired FBI Director James Comey.

“We will fix it,” said Trump, standing along the Ohio River. “We will create the first-class infrastructure our country and our people deserve.”

But the controversies and distractions in Washington continued to dog the president throughout the day. As he was speaking, the Senate Intelligence committee released the prepared testimony Comey is expected to deliver Thursday. It includes detailed descriptions of meetings and phone conversations between Trump and Comey.

In the speech, the president also pressed the Senate to send him a health care bill, criticized congressional Democrats as “obstructionists” and revisited his controversial decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement.

Trump said that as he campaigned across the country last year, people often asked him why the U.S. was spending money to rebuild other countries when the roads and bridges they travel on needed rebuilding, too.

Trump declared the days of spending on other nations are over: “It’s time to rebuild our country” and to “put America first,” he said.

While infrastructure initially was seen as an area where Republican and Democrats could work together, Democrats have balked at Trump’s plan for using tax incentives and public-private partnerships to finance improvements. Many argue such a plan would result in taxpayer-funded profits for corporations with the cost loaded onto consumers.

Before the speech, Trump met aboard Air Force One with a pair of families the White House said were “victims” of the Obama-era health care law that the president and congressional Republicans want to repeal and replace.

Trump said the families — one from Ohio and another from Kentucky — are going through “turmoil” along with millions of other consumers who are facing rising premiums and limited choices for health coverage under the 2010 law.

“Now it’s time for the Senate to act and save Americans from this catastrophic event because Obamacare is dead,” Trump said. “Obamacare was one of the biggest broken promises in the history of politics. Remember ‘you can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan?’ Didn’t work out that way.”

The Republican-controlled House has passed a health care bill that no Democrats supported. Senate Republicans are working on their own version.