Sen. Barack Obama pounced on Sen. John McCain’s vote against funding for levees and flood control programs as river waters continue to rise in the Midwest today.
"Now both Sen. McCain and I have traveled recently to the areas that have been devastated by floods," Obama said. "And I know that Sen. McCain felt as strongly as I did, feeling enormous sympathy for the victims of the recent flooding. And I’m sure they appreciated the sentiment, but they probably would have appreciated it even more if Sen. McCain hadn’t opposed legislation to fund levees and flood control programs, which he considers pork."
The Water Resources Development Act, which McCain voted against last fall, was vetoed by President Bush for being "fiscally irresponsible" but the bill survived because Congress voted to override the president’s veto — the first presidential override in Bush’s presidency.
Republicans were quick to point out that by grilling McCain on his vote, Obama in turn attacked his own national campaign co-chair Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who also voted against the act.
Obama said there are "profound differences" between himself and Sen. McCain on the gas tax holiday as well.
"Sen. McCain has proposed a gas tax holiday that would take $3 billion a month out of the Highway Trust Fund and hand it over effectively to our oil companies," Obama said, and he pointed out that the nation’s infrastructure received a "D" from the American Society of Civil Engineers. "At a time when the Highway Trust Fund is beginning to run a deficit for the first time in history, I think that’s the last thing we can afford to do. That is the last thing we can afford to do," he said.
While telling mayors from around the country that he would be "a partner in the White House," Obama touted policies that he said would help on the state level.
"I’ll also launch a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank that will invest $60 billion over 10 years, and create nearly 2 million new jobs," Obama said to the U.S. Conference of Mayors. "Instead of building bridges to nowhere, let’s build communities that meet the needs and reflect the dreams of our families."
Obama also promised funding for teachers, police, housing and broadband Internet.