Obama repeats call for Congress to extend transportation funding

Paul Conner Executive Editor
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One million workers could be in danger of losing their jobs and $1 billion in highway projects could be lost if Congress does not pass an extension of a national transportation bill, President Barack Obama warned Saturday.

In his weekly address, Obama repeated a call he made earlier in the week to extend funding for legislation that powers highway construction, bridge repair and mass transit systems. The current law is set to expire on September 30.

“Usually, renewing this transportation bill is a no-brainer,” Obama said. “In fact, Congress has renewed it seven times over the last two years. But thanks to political posturing in Washington, they haven’t been able to extend it this time — and the clock is running out.”

The president cited the support of 128 mayors from both parties and both the AFL-CIO and the Chamber of Commerce.

Obama picked up key support Wednesday when Republican Rep. John Mica, chairman of the House Transportation Committee said he would back an extension of the legislation, although he hinted that he may try to add elements of the proposed Republican plan.

The Mica-backed plan was intended to cut federal spending and would have provided less than half of what Obama has requested.

“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. “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.”