Elaine Chao: Why It’s Taking So Long for Trump’s Infrastructure Plan to Land

July 17, 2018, 7:06 PM UTC

President Donald Trump pledged to spend some $1 trillion on infrastructure while on the 2016 campaign trail. But such a promise has yet to materialize, with attempts to revive talks on the issue repeatedly stalling in Washington.

“We hope to do something big on infrastructure,” said Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao at Fortune’s annual Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colo. Tuesday.

Chao has vocally supported Trump’s plan of infrastructure in the past, even though Trump has held at least two “infrastructure weeks” with little to show for it.

When addressing why it is taking so long to address the issue, Chao said the delays stem from disagreements about how to pay for an $1.5 trillion infrastructure proposal using $200 billion from the federal government.

“We want to work on a bipartisan consensus,” she said, adding: “There are many ways of paying for for the infrastructure proposal.”

Specifically, Chao pointed to filling in the funding gaps with private sector investments, from pensions, endowments, and others.

When asked by panel moderator and Fortune president Alan Murray how she juggled the new administration’s seemingly never-ending controversies and shakeups, Chao argued that to an extent, it is built into the nation’s DNA.

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“Our country is a very young country. It is robust, full democracy. If you look at the founding fathers and their writings, many of them are anonymous,” she said. “We are in a very argumentative, very raucous society.”

Those comments come after Chao defended her husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ala.) from protestors confronting McConnell over Trump’s immigration policy that led to the separation of parents and children.

“Why don’t you leave my husband alone?” She was videotaped saying in late June. “Why don’t you leave my husband alone.”

As to why this current administration seems particularly raucous, Chao pointed to the proliferation of the internet.

“What has changed is with 24/7 media, we now see everything. Every person here is a reporter. Every person is a journalist. We are seeing the full array of interactions,” she said.

Watch the rest of Fortune Brainstorm Tech 2018 here.