Trump uses deadly Amtrak crash to push his infrastructure plan — then sends his condolences

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump promoted his infrastructure plan after a deadly train derailment in Washington state.
  • He later tweeted condolences to the people affected by the accident.
  • Trump is pushing for a massive infrastructure package starting next month.
President Trump speaks on national security strategy

President Donald Trump promoted his planned infrastructure push Monday in a tweet addressing a train derailment in Washington state, that reportedly killed at least three people and injured several others.

The high-speed Amtrak train with 83 passengers spilled onto Interstate 5 in the state after leaving the tracks. Federal investigators trying to determine the cause of the crash said the train was traveling at 80 mph, 50 mph above the speed limit.

In a tweet, Trump contended that the accident "shows more than ever why our soon to be submitted infrastructure plan must be approved quickly."

An Amtrak train derailment hangs over an overpass along I-5 south of Seattle on Dec 18th, 2017.
Photo: Washington State Police | Trooper Brooke Bova

Trump tweet on infrastructure

It is unclear how Trump's infrastructure proposal specifically would have prevented the accident. The area of track where the train derailed just got upgraded as part of a $181 million project, according to The Associated Press.

It was the first day of public use for the track, which had been upgraded from a freight and military route to passenger rail service. The accident followed what Washington state transportation officials described as "weeks of inspection and testing."

In a subsequent tweet sent minutes later, Trump said his "thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved in the train accident" and thanked first responders.

The White House plans to start its push for a massive infrastructure program next month. The Trump administration is expected to promote a program that would include $200 billion in federal spending and aims to spur $800 billion in state, local and private sector spending.

A promised revamp of roads, bridges and airports figured prominently in Trump's presidential campaign but has taken a backseat so far to efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and overhaul the U.S. tax code.

Trump's call for infrastructure spending comes as Republicans are on the verge of passing a tax plan which would add an estimated $1 trillion or more to federal budget deficits over a decade.

Trump has been inconsistent on when to call for policy changes after a catastrophic event. On Halloween, Trump ordered an acceleration of his "extreme vetting" of foreigners entering the U.S. following a fatal terror attack in New York. However, following the shooting massacre of dozens of concertgoers in Las Vegas earlier this year, the White House repeatedly said it was too early to talk about possible policy solutions.

Correction: The Trump administration is expected to promote an infrastructure program that aims to spur $800 billion in state, local and private sector spending. An earlier version misstated the figure.