Trump touts border wall funds during Ohio infrastructure speech

By Jeremy Diamond and Dan Merica, CNN

(CNN) -- President Donald Trump, speaking before a crowd of union builders on Thursday in Richfield, Ohio, touted new border wall funding during his infrastructure speech.

He joked that he was arguably better at building than he is at being president.

"That is what I do, I build," Trump said. "I was always very good at building. It was always my best thing. I think (I'm) better at being president, I was good at building."

Trump also referenced photos he tweeted out earlier this week, which were taken in February and depicted replacement fencing.

On the wall, Trump came close to accusing Democrats of wanting drugs to come over the border.

"They want people to come in from the border and they want, I guess, want, I can't imagine they want, but certainly drugs are pouring across borders," he said. "We need walls. We started building our wall. I am so proud of it."

Trump's speech was billed as a pivot to infrastructure to tout the economic benefits of his proposals to help rebuild and repair America's ailing system.

His speech comes a day after the President's Council of Economic Advisers released a report claiming the proposal could employ as many as 414,000 additional infrastructure workers over 10 years.

"Following on the success of tax reform, infrastructure is the next piece of the President's successful economic agenda," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Wednesday. "These workers represent the hardworking Americans across the country who will participate in the rebuilding of our nation's infrastructure, sparked from the President's vision, and it will definitely be worth tuning in to see the President lay out that vision."

There is little optimism, though, about the prospects of Trump's infrastructure proposals becoming law this year -- with little appetite for any major pieces of legislation in Congress ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

If there is any movement, it won't be in a sprawling piece of legislation Trump once envisioned. House Speaker Paul Ryan has favored a piecemeal approach to advancing the proposals, saying it could be done in a series of bills.

A senior administration official acknowledged Wednesday that 2018 does present challenges, but said the administration is committed to tackling the issue over the long-term and said the White House believes pieces of Trump's proposals will pace this year.

"We will have a push, a strong push to have infrastructure done this year," a senior administration official said. "We hope to get a big chunk done this year ... and what we can't get done this year, we'll get done next year."

"We're absolutely in this for the long haul," the official added.

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