Obama Urges Congress to Pass Transportation Bill

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.

President Obama urged Congress to avoid another partial Federal Aviation Administration shutdown by passing a long-term funding authorization bill. Photo: Doogie919/Flickr

Republicans tell that 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,” Barack 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,” the president said. “This isn’t a Democratic or a Republican issue — it’s an American issue,” Obama added.

He said on Wednesday that the legislation should also address back pay for the 4,000 federal employees who were furloughed from July 23 to Aug. 4 after Congress allowed FAA funding to lapse. Congress passed a short-term extension Aug. 4 that has allowed the agency to operate through Sept. 16.

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.

Republicans used their weekly address to push for passage of a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution and attack Obama over his approach to job creation. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., complained that the administration has spent too much money on stimulus initiatives that didn’t work while piling on burdensome regulations.

“While our workers are being held back by Washington, there’s nothing in place to stop the federal government from bankrolling further big government spending – the kind that leads to government expansion into private-sector jobs, burdensome mandates on job creators and skyrocketing national debt,” he said.

The debt legislation passed last month requires both the House and Senate to vote on a balanced-budget amendment, and Goodlatte said Obama should use his upcoming jobs speech to join the call for the measure.

But the administration and most Democrats oppose the approach as unnecessary and political, arguing Congress should be able to control the budget without amending the Constitution. Passage is unlikely anyway since it requires two-thirds approval of both houses of Congress and ratification by three-quarters of the states. [via Huff Post]

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