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Photo: Olivier Douliery-Pool / Getty Images

The White House will release two documents on Monday: its much-ballyhooed infrastructure plan and its 2018 budget. Readers should file both documents under the genre of “science fiction.” The budget is dead on arrival because presidential budgets are always dead on arrival, and the infrastructure plan appears to be dead on arrival because of a larger crisis facing the party. 

Behind-the-scenes: We've spent the past two weeks interviewing Republican aides and lawmakers on Capitol Hill about their support for a massive infrastructure spending bill. Though some will publicly applaud the plan, most Republican members will crinkle their noses. Few want a midterm-year spend-a-thon when they’re marching toward a $1 trillion deficit this year.

"I think [the budget deal] does hurt the chances for an infrastructure package to get done, unless you use the money we’re just now spending... I think there’s not going to be the appetite to continue to add additional monies without real offsets.”
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows

It’s not just ultra-conservative House Freedom caucus members who worry about the mushrooming debt under total GOP control of government.

Sources say Speaker Paul Ryan has zero interest in juicing the debt even more with a massive infrastructure package. (The White House plan is to leverage $200 billion of new federal spending into a $1.5 trillion infrastructure package.)

  • At Tuesday’s Republican Study Committee meeting, members vented about metastasizing debt and deficits. ​Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker called the national debt a “moral problem, not a financial problem,” according to two sources in the room. ​And that was even before Republicans passed a budget bill that put the debt on steroids.

All that said, it’s certainly plausible Congress could move some hodge-podge of provisions which they could describe as an infrastructure package. It won’t look remotely like Trump’s proposal, but it may give cover for a Rose Garden celebration.  

  • A White House spokeswoman pushed back vociferously on this story, saying Republicans and Democrats are aligned “in a lot of places” on infrastructure. She pointed to polling that shows a vast majority of Americans want some sort of infrastructure spending, and said the president’s team has spent the past year trying to build support from both parties. But privately, several senior administration officials have admitted to me they see no path to passage for anything resembling their infrastructure plan. 

Meanwhile, congressional leadership is hedging. GOP leadership aides reminded me of all the infrastructure legislation Republicans have already passed under Trump, but didn’t dispute that there’s scant GOP appetite for another mammoth spending bill this year.

Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell — whose wife, Elaine Chao, is Trump's Transportation Secretary and invested in infrastructure happening — was a little snarky in his statement:

“It’s easy to write obituaries in advance — it’s hard to cover dozens of hearings and weeks of floor debate."

Good one, Don.

Go deeper

17 mins ago - World

Canadian Indigenous group finds 93 suspected unmarked graves

A makeshift memorial honoring the 215 children whose remains were found in a mass grave in Brantford, Ontario, Canada, last May. Photo: Cole Burston/AFP via Getty Images

Indigenous leaders in Canada's western province of British Columbia said Tuesday they believe they've found 93 unmarked graves near a former boarding school.

The big picture: Hundreds of mass graves have been found at the grounds of former residential schools for Indigenous children since last May, when the remains of 215 children were uncovered at one such site in B.C.

3 hours ago - World

Coast Guard searches for 39 people after boat capsizes off Florida coast

A U.S. Coast Guard ship leaving its base in Miami Beach, Florida, in July. Photo: AP/Marta Lavandier

U.S. Coast Guard crews were searching into the night for 39 people whose boat sank off Florida's coast over the weekend after traveling from the Bahamas.

The big picture: A "good Samaritan" contacted the Coast Guard about 8 a.m. Tuesday to say they "rescued a man clinging to a capsized vessel" 45 miles east of Fort Pierce, per a tweet from the agency, which noted it was dealing with "a suspected human smuggling venture."

Scoop: Race to lead NRCC kicks off

Reps. Darin LaHood (left) and Richard Hudson. Photos: Al Drago/Getty Images (LaHood) and Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Reps. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) and Darin LaHood (R-Ill.) are both telling colleagues they plan to run for chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee for the 2024 cycle, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Republicans are confident they'll win the House majority back this fall, and the early jockeying to lead the caucus' fundraising apparatus is just another indicator of their optimism.