May 14th, 2014
04:55 PM ET
3 months ago

Obama to GOP: Tear down this bridge, and pay for a new one

Tarrytown, New York (CNN) - Saying that rebuilding America "shouldn't be a partisan issue," President Obama tackled the dense issue of federal infrastructure spending Wednesday. He called on Republicans in Congress to "not fight on something we all know makes sense."

Obama took Republicans to task several times for not approving funds that would replenish the nation's Highway Trust Fund, which could run out of money late this summer.

He said states are already cutting back on projects because of the uncertainty, and that thousands of good-paying construction jobs are in jeopardy as a result. If Congress does not, "act by the end of the summer, federal funding for transportation projects will run out," Obama said. "There will be no money, the cupboard will be bare."

Obama told Republicans that if they didn't want to listen to him, maybe they should listen to some past GOP leaders.

"My favorite president happens to have been a Republican - a guy named Abraham Lincoln in my home state of Illinois." He added "it was Lincoln who committed to a railroad connecting East to West, even while he was struggling mightily to hold together North and South. It was a Republican, Dwight Eisenhower, who built the Interstate Highway System. It was Ronald Reagan who said that rebuilding our infrastructure is 'an investment in tomorrow that we must make today'.”

The President spoke at the Washington Irving Boat Club just north of New York City, using the outdated Tappan Zee Bridge as a backdrop. The bridge is in the process of being replaced by a new span, and is one of several so-called fast track projects that the President used as an example of success stories he would like to see repeated across the country.

In that vein, Obama also announced an executive action to streamline infrastructure permitting at the federal level, and unveiled plans to fast-track 11 projects across the country.

"We're releasing a new plan for 11 more projects to accelerate from Boston South Station to Pensacola Bay Bridge, to new light rail projects north and south of Seattle," he said, adding that his order would cut "bureaucratic red tape that stalls good projects from breaking ground."

The push comes as the federal Highway Trust Fund is rapidly dwindling, setting up a so-called "transportation cliff" toward the end of August. Fueled by gasoline taxes, the fund hasn't been able to keep up with spending demands as Americans spend less on fuel.

Meanwhile, America's highways and bridges - and other critical parts of the nation's transportation infrastructure such as railways - need serious upgrades and repairs. The American Society of Civil Engineers gives U.S. infrastructure a D+ in terms of condition and performance.

In Washington, Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of California put forward a transportation bill earlier this week in the Senate that has received some Republican support. But there has been little support in the Republican-controlled House.

Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus responded to the President's criticism, saying, "We already tried President Obama's effort to fix our country's infrastructure through his failed $830 billion stimulus. If the President is looking for a shovel-ready project, then he can get moving on the Keystone Pipeline which will create thousands of American jobs."

Wednesday evening the President attends two Democratic Party fundraisers in New York. On Thursday he is scheduled to address the dedication ceremony at the 9-11 Museum in New York City, before returning to Washington.

CNN's Jim Acosta, Kevin Liptak and Dana Davidsen contributed to this story.


Filed under: New York • President Obama
soundoff (668 Responses)
  1. The REAL Truth...

    @Anonymous – this man is a disgrace......blame blame...divide..divide.....why dont you come up with solutions and stop blaming people for your shortcomings. Maybe you should start think about being President to al Americans not just your 50%. 3 more years of this guy...OMG!
    -------------------------------------
    It appears that the GOP demagoguery works well on the mental midgets. Unprecedented blocking and filibustering (even their own legislation) at any point in our history by the GOP in the Senate/House, House bills laden with poison pill riders (anti-abortion, ACA repealing, entitlement gutting and Defense spending increases) designed to be tabled by Reid, not a single job since the rans on "jobs" in 2010, 50+ attempts to repeal ACA (mostly a conservative health plan up to and including the exchanges and the individual mandate), debt rating downgrade and a $24 BILLION Federal shutdown... finger pointing, blame, divide.. so clueless!

    May 15, 2014 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  2. Swedge70

    Maybe he should quote Republicans that wouldn't be drummed out of today's GOP.
    Also, Priebus is so full of it it's almost laughable. It's been said before, I'll say it again. Reince Priebus without the vowels, very appropriately, is RNC PR BS.

    May 15, 2014 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  3. PKRipper

    Something that makes sense, oh mean like the Keystone pipeline that will employ thousands of people and generate tax revenue for the next 100 years? How can anyone listen to this clown anymore?

    May 15, 2014 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  4. El Warbo Grande

    Obama: America has become too partisan. It's all Republicans' fault.

    May 15, 2014 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  5. thedjeso

    Mr. Obama .... aka .... ALL TALK. Don't cross that red line ..... Puttin's reply .... or what!

    May 15, 2014 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  6. uncdig

    another paid political advertisment

    May 15, 2014 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  7. fischer509

    The ploy to strangle the beast by obstructing legislation,i.e tenatively works in the Republican mind, because uninformed citizens will blame the President for government's failure. Reducing the government's size by failure to act when actions are required results in the ultimate breakdown of our democracy.

    May 15, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  8. Paradise Lost

    Agree that the determination of these presidents to take on major infrastructure improvements is worth emulating. . Disagree that the needed infrastructure improvment should concentrate on highways. Shouldn't we have learned by now we are chasing our tails? The more you build the more automobile traffic you encourage which leads to more money needed for highways. PLEASE SOMEONE! Step up and resolve to build a nationwide mass transit system second to none

    May 15, 2014 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  9. George

    Ironic that this thing is a toll bridge and they still cannot "find" the money to replace it.

    To be clear, I dislike both parties, so this isnt a pro-democrat or pro-republican. How can our goverment be trillions in debt, collect a daily toll on this bridge for 58 years and not fin the money/gumption to replace a bridge on a federal highway.

    May 15, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  10. dman6015

    Today's Republicans don't give a rat's patoot what previous Republican "icons" did or said. They're only concerned about the present moment. Bunch of hypocrites.

    May 15, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  11. JJR

    Why is there no outcry about the 36,000 convicted criminal illegals that Obama and ICE have released back into the streets of the USA?

    May 15, 2014 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  12. paofpa

    Bridges are socialism. Let private enterprise built the bridge and charge what they may. Remember the roads to the bridge can do the same. With to toll takers having the ability to go on strike. This is FREE ENTERPRISE, gods will.

    May 15, 2014 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  13. Dave1157

    It's interesting that Priebus has declared the stimulus package as "failed" when our economy and infrastructure have been on the mend for the past five years. How did that $800+ million Wall Street bailout work? Oh yeah, that's right. Bonuses and severance packages have never been more lucrative, not to mention some really lavish company-paid retreats for the people who caused those problems in the first place. But let's not talk about that, because Bush was at the helm then and we don't want to remind anybody that his administration presided over the greatest economic collapse this country has seen since the Great Depression.

    As to the Keystone Pipeline, it will create less than 10,000 US jobs for a few years while it's being built (some estimates said 5000 jobs for about two years), and once construction is done most of those people will be unemployed. Well, except for the ones who will be called in to clean up any spills that happen to occur. Ask the Canadians about that, because it's already happened up there.

    If Keystone is the best the Republicans can do about creating jobs, they can go back to sleep. Because we've created close to a thousand times that many jobs already without their "help".

    May 15, 2014 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  14. Tom R

    What Bridge??

    May 15, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  15. Tawaune

    People on here are stupid. The Keystone pipeline will make a lot of temporary jobs for Americans. The pipeline would be routed through our country but its not ours! PIPES LEAK, THEN WHAT? WE WOULD HAVE ANOTHER ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER ON OUR HANDS THAT WE CANT CLEAN UP. our NATION DID NOT BECOME GREAT BECAUSE OF OIL. OUR COUNTRY BECAME GREAT BECAUSE OUR INFRASTRUCTURE BOOM LEAD TO A MANUFACTURING BOOM WHICH LEAD TO A EXPORT BOOM. THIS IS THE FORMULA THAT MADE US GREAT. OIL IS A FINITE RESOURCE. LETS REBUILD OUR COUNTRY FROM THE INSIDE OUT. history IS THE BLUEPRINT. Think people.

    May 15, 2014 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  16. Bd

    In CA we are choked by traffic. CA democrats support a bullet train that goes from nowhere to nowhere. All that money could be funneled into highway infrastructure. These lawmakers DO NOT have the best interest of the people in their minds and they are disconnected from reality. Federal and State level

    May 15, 2014 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  17. Infantryman_1968

    LOL!
    Where is the billions of tax dollars collected to maintain all of this stuff?

    May 15, 2014 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  18. WYLLGUY

    Obama told Republicans that if they didn't want to listen to him, maybe they should listen to some past GOP leaders.

    "My favorite president happens to have been a Republican – a guy named Abraham Lincoln in my home state of Illinois." He added "it was Lincoln who committed to a railroad connecting East to West, even while he was struggling mightily to hold together North and South. It was a Republican, Dwight Eisenhower, who built the Interstate Highway System. It was Ronald Reagan who said that rebuilding our infrastructure is 'an investment in tomorrow that we must make today'.”
    _________________________________________________________________________________________________

    GAME, SET, MATCH: President Obama!

    It's so hilarous to watch the GOP try to re-group when they've been smarted. Instead of trying to introduce real solutions all the GOP care about is trying to discredit the President. I think it really grinds their gears knowing that Obama is still PRESIDENT and that most of his policies are actually doing good for the country.

    May 15, 2014 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
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