Washington (CNN) — Once again using some of the nation’s deteriorating infrastructure as his backdrop, President Barack Obama this week plans to pressure lawmakers into finding a way to keep money flowing to road and bridge projects before funding dries up next month.
It’s a message he’s pushed in front of crumbling bridges and at the White House since the beginning of the summer, often using the issue to blast Republicans on Capitol Hill, who he said could be responsible for massive layoffs and stalled projects should a plan to replenish the Highway Trust Fund not materialize before next month.
The White House said Monday Obama would use two stops this week — at a highway research facility in Northern Virginia on Tuesday and at an "infrastructure site" in Wilmington, Delaware, on Thursday — to advance plans that would spur innovation in building and in turn create jobs.
The News Journal in Wilmington reported Obama would speak near the I-495 bridge, in serious disrepair and under an emergency closure since June. Obama has made the case for new transportation spending in recent weeks with visits to New York's Tappan Zee Bridge and just outside the Key Bridge linking Northern Virginia and Washington.
A White House official said this week's push would involve announcing new executive actions, including a move to better prepare infrastructure systems for the effects of climate change and an initiative to increase private sector investment in transportation projects.
The effort also includes a new online transportation map that highlights infrastructure projects nationwide and allows users to submit photos of crumbling bridges, roads and tunnels in their communities.
Earlier this month the Obama administration sent letters to states warning that federal funding for road construction projects would start to dwindle at the beginning of August if lawmakers don’t act to bolster the Highway Trust Fund, which relies on a gasoline tax.
As Americans use more fuel-efficient cars and drive less, and thereby buying less gas, the fund has gotten smaller. The Transportation Department has warned that money for road projects will run out in August.
Last week, House and Senate committees passed relatively similar measures that would supply nearly $11 billion for transportation projects, enough to last until roughly next summer.
The bills, approved by the Democratic-led Senate Finance Committee and the Republican-led House Ways and Means Committee, will now be considered by each chamber, with the House taking up its version this week.
If both the Senate bill and the House bill pass as expected, the two sides must quickly agree to a compromise bill to keep money flowing and avoid construction slowdowns.
The White House official said Obama would “continue to urge Republican lawmakers to not block” the funding measure during his appearances this week.
Obama himself has laid out a far bigger, $302 billion transportation funding plan that would close certain tax loopholes to fund infrastructure projects. Last week the White House said its own plan was still the best option for avoiding transportation funding gaps.
“The proposal that I’ve seen that I like the best is the one that was put forward by this administration,” White Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. “It is a common-sense proposal that certainly deserves the kind of bipartisan support that unfortunately is all too rare in Washington these days.”
–CNN’s Lisa Desjardins contributed to this report.
Oh good, time for more "shovel-ready" jobs. Just what did they do with the last 1 trillion dollars given to them in 2008 for the infrastructure? If they didn't use it for those jobs, what was it used for? If they did, why is it falling apart already?
S.B.Stein, I knew all you liberals want the country to go back and ride bicycles, or walk, forget about horses they are outlawed in NYC
More "Shovel Ready Jobs" for another "Summer of Recovery". Does anyone trust what he says?
Fact is, it simply won't matter for any GOPers/Teatrolls unless and until 1 of two things happen...either (a) a bridge falls on their family, in which case they'll suddenly care about infrastructure or (b) they take power and find themselves in a position where they can both take credit for anything good happening AND can abuse that power to ban any union labor from working on the projects.