Trying to turn attention back to tax cuts and away from the staffing turmoil in his administration, President Donald Trump promised Wednesday that more relief was on the way.
Speaking at a Boeing factory in St. Louis with two fighter jets as his backdrop, Trump celebrated the impact of the tax cuts he signed into law last year and said he was working with Congress on a second package that would deliver new benefits for companies and the middle class.
"We're now going for a phase two," he said. "It's going to be something very special. Kevin Brady's working on it with me."
It's unclear what Trump was talking about. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for more details, but Brady, the chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, told Fox Business Network he was indeed working on something with the president and "we think even more can be done."
"We want to make sure that we're encouraging innovation in America. We want to help families save for the long term," Brady said. "Also, while the tax cuts for families were long-term, they're not yet permanent. So we're going to address issues like that."
The trip to Missouri came a day after Trump announced he had fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, with questions swirling about who is next to go. It also came as a closely watched special election in Pennsylvania — a district Trump won in a landslide in 2016 — remained too close to call, providing another wakeup call to Republicans about Democratic enthusiasm heading into November's midterm elections.
The trip served as a victory lap of sorts for a president who has struggled to rack up legislative wins. Trump launched his campaign for an overhaul of the nation's tax code at a Springfield, Missouri, manufacturing plant last August, and returned to the state to tout the benefits of the law, which slashed taxes for corporations while providing more modest breaks for middle-class families.
"Six months ago I promised that we would cut taxes to bring Main Street roaring all the way back and we did," Trump said. "We helped Wall Street, we helped Main Street, we helped everybody,"
Boeing, which employs about 14,000 people in the St. Louis area, announced it would make $300 million in new investments as a result of the overhaul. Increased military spending under Trump has also benefited the company, particularly its St. Louis operation, which produces the Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet and Air Force F-15s.
During his visit, Trump eagerly inspected the cockpit of an EA-18 Growler, climbing a set of metal stairs to chat with Steve Schmidt, Boeing's lead test pilot.
He also heard from business leaders and workers from companies that have passed on their tax savings in the form of bonuses or higher wages.
At one point Trump noted he had asked Congress to provide funding for two dozen new F-18 jets — "To me, it's a work of art," he said — and joked with the head of Boeing that he's "working on price."
"Otherwise we're going to buy 'em from somebody else. But it will all be in the United States, right? ... What do you think, Dennis, are we going to make a deal?"
Dennis Muilenburg, the CEO of Boeing CEO told Trump, "We'll find a way."
Trump was also headlining a fundraiser for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Josh Hawley. Hawley is running for the seat held by Democrat Claire McCaskill. Trump publicly endorsed him during a trip to the state in November.
Thomas reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Summer Ballentine contributed to this report.