Standing before a crumbling New York bridge, President Obama today made an urgent plea for lawmakers to pass infrastructure legislation, saying rebuilding America “shouldn’t be a partisan issue.”
“If they don’t act by the end of the summer, federal funding for transportation projects will run out. … There will be no money. The cupboard will be bare,” Obama said as he stood before the Tappan Zee Bridge, just north of New York City.
“Let’s not fight about something we all know makes sense,” he said.
The president slammed Republicans for failing to replenish the Highway Trust Fund, warning that unless they act, nearly 700,000 jobs could be at risk next year.
“Not only have they prevented so far efforts to make sure funding is still in place for what we’ve already got, but their proposal would actually cut job-creating grant programs that have funded high-priority transportation projects in all 50 states,” Obama said. “Instead of putting more workers back on the job, they’d put those workers’ jobs at risk.”
The president is backing a four-year, $302 billion transportation plan that would be paid for by ending some business tax breaks and closing corporate tax loopholes.
“We’ve gotten so partisan, everything is becoming political,” he said. “It’s time for folks to stop running around saying what’s wrong with America. Roll up your sleeves and let’s get to work and help America rebuild. That’s what we should be doing. We don’t need a ‘can’t do’ spirit. We need a ‘can do’ spirit.”
While he waits for lawmakers to embrace that call, the president announced plans to accelerate the approval process for infrastructure projects across the country.
“We’re cutting bureaucratic red tape that stalls good projects from breaking ground,” he explained.
After years of delay, the 60-year-old Tappan Zee Bridge is now being replaced after the White House helped fast-track its permitting and review process. The bridge, located roughly 20 miles north of New York City, carries approximately 138,000 vehicles daily and has seen traffic volumes increase by about 30 percent since 1990.