Washington President Barack Obama is appealing to Congress to pass a transportation bill that would put money in the pipeline for roads and construction jobs, arguing that it’s an economic imperative.
Republicans say they support passing the bill, but Obama says time is running out and “political posturing” may stand in the way.
“There’s no reason to put more jobs at risk in an industry that has been one of the hardest-hit in this recession,” Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address. “There’s no reason to cut off funding for transportation projects at a time when so many of our roads are congested, so many of our bridges are in need of repair and so many businesses are feeling the cost of delays.”
Obama issued his call as he prepares to make a major jobs speech to a joint session of Congress on Thursday in which he’s expected to push for bipartisan action on tax credits and infrastructure spending to get the economy out of its doldrums. A new jobs report just found the economy stopped adding jobs in August and unemployment stood at 9.1 percent.
Federal highway programs, and the fuel taxes that pay for them, will expire Sept. 30 unless Congress acts, and money for construction projects across the country would be held up. That follows the partial shutdown this summer of the Federal Aviation Administration over a showdown between the House and Senate that led to thousands of layoffs of workers on airport construction and other projects.
Transportation experts say the impact of an expiration of highway programs would be even more devastating for the economy. Transportation programs tend to have wide bipartisan support, but given the focus of the House Republican majority on cutting the budget, the legislation could run into disputes over how much to spend on it.