In his weekly address, President Obama once again urges Congress to pass an extension of the transportation bill, saying it would be a “disaster for our infrastructure and our economy” if the legislation is allowed to expire.
“There’s a lot of talk in Washington these days about creating jobs. But it doesn’t help when those same folks turn around and risk losing hundreds of thousands of jobs just because of political gamesmanship. We need to pass this transportation bill and put people to work rebuilding America. We need to put our differences aside and do the right thing for our economy. And now is the time to act,” the president says, noting that nearly one million American jobs are riding on the transportation bill.
The legislation, which has been renewed seven times over the last two years, provides funding for highway construction, bridge repair, mass transit systems and revenue in the form of the federal gas tax.
“Renewing this transportation bill is a no-brainer,” Obama says. “But thanks to political posturing in Washington, they haven’t been able to extend it this time – and the clock is running out.”
Obama has been publicly pushing Congress to act on the transportation bill in an effort to sway lawmakers who may try to use the bill to create yet another impasse on Capitol Hill. The bill is set to expire at the end of September, but the House and Senate remain far apart on the legislation. The House is proposing a six year $235 billion bill, while the Senate wants a two year $109 billion measure.
Because the differences between the two chambers are so great, Congress will likely need to pass a short-term extension to avoid a shut down at the end of the month. Democrats fear Republicans will try to attach extraneous riders, which is why the president is calling for a “clean extension.”
“This isn’t a Democratic or a Republican issue. It’s an American issue,” Obama says. “I’m calling on Congress, as soon as they come back, to pass a clean extension of the transportation bill to keep workers on the job, keep critical projects moving forward, and to give folks a sense of security.”