May 14th, 2014
04:55 PM ET
9 years 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.

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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The President spoke at the Washington Irving Boat Club just north of New York City, using the outdated Tappan Zee Bridge as a backdrop.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. pjoe

    Where did that stimulus money go?

    Oh yeah, to bail out the unions.

    Let's wait and build when we have a President we can trust.

    May 14, 2014 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    We are much to hard on our elected presidents of both parties. The success or failure of this great nation depends
    on all it's responsiable citizens pushing for success.

    May 14, 2014 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  3. Steve Short

    Citizens that disagree with other citizens because of their political philosophy should not call one another nasty names and declare unsavory epithets upon each other.

    We should discuss our differences in a civil and polite manner; this is the basis of our freedoms. The degree to which some have stooped in creating ugliness here is ...embarrassing to me. Has our country degraded to a level of coarseness that cannot be blunted?

    Why can we not disagree politely?

    May 14, 2014 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  4. BO

    America to Obama: Clean up your Obamacare TRAIN WRECK.

    May 14, 2014 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  5. Mark

    Another failed stimulus package in the making!

    As much money that was blown then they shouldn't need any funds

    May 14, 2014 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  6. Bill

    If Dems would stop stealing from the gas tax in place in nearly every state, which is supposed to go to pay for stuff like this, we wouldn't have a problem.

    So get your hands off of my wallet Mr. President.

    May 14, 2014 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  7. Jim

    For running on a campaign about being able to reach across the aisle and get things done you have lied and failed. How do you ever expect to reach across the aisle when all you do is put the "across the aisle" on the enemy list and try to make a public spectacle of them. Here is novel idea, how about we stop giving billions in loans and grants to other countries. Who is in charge of that? Not Congress.

    May 14, 2014 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  8. Jay

    The gas tax brings in at least 40 billion a year in taxes. Now, during Obama's first or second year as president he got his shovel ready jobs bill passed, 830 billion dollars. Do the math, and that is more than 20 years worth of gas taxes that was supposed to go to infrastructure, where did it go? Government union jobs, etc....
    Do I have any faith that this president and Democratic Senate will put the money where it was supposed to go, NO I don't.
    TARP repayments and it's INTEREST were supposed to go back against the debt, but the Democratically controlled Congress and Obama stole it. If a freedom of information request were issued for where that 830 billion went we'd all probably be ticked off, or either they'd classify it, or they'd just say they don't know where it went because they have ZERO Accountability.

    May 14, 2014 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  9. Saba

    Sure, so China is doing better than us. Well guess how much more we spend on the military to fight off, who? China? Our military could wipe out China, Russian, and North Korea like swatting a fly. Also, China spends nearly no money on pollution control. So they pretty up the streets for the liberals to glorify. Swap countries with a chinese man and an American and see who wants to stay and who wants to go back home. So much for the looney who thinks China will take out lead over.

    May 14, 2014 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  10. Tom

    Obama's been burning bridges since he got into office. When is HE going to rebuild some?

    May 14, 2014 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  11. Jerry Whitcomb

    Taxpayers to Obama.........TAKE IT OUT OF FOOD STAMPS, WELFARE, AND SECTION 8 and put them to work fixing the roads and bridges. Now THERE is a plan that works and pays for itself.

    May 14, 2014 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  12. Jason Glugla

    Doesn't he know that the GOP is not going to tear anything down? They are just going to block everything until it comes falling down with a bunch of their supporters on it.

    May 14, 2014 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  13. svann

    In the past the Republican party was the liberal party. This GOP is not the same party that Lincoln led.

    May 14, 2014 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  14. Just

    This POTUS track record is so poor with money. The green stuff he gave many millions of taxpayer dollars away ala solyndra and others. Just proofed it away, never to be seen again. I just can't believe that anything he says will end up as a good thing.

    May 14, 2014 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  15. Tom

    Casting blame, as usual, what an embarrassment.

    May 14, 2014 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  16. jimatmad

    It's hard to imagine this is the same party that produced Dwight Eisenhower, or even Ronald Reagan.

    There is nothing left of substance. Not one thing.

    May 14, 2014 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  17. Andy

    Coming from the biggest obstructionist in history

    May 14, 2014 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  18. Uncle Sam

    Wait, what does Christie think.

    May 14, 2014 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  19. Name

    live in tx. they are building lots of tolls here. but we don't pay the state to build them we pay somebody overseas to build them and pay them to eise on them

    May 14, 2014 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  20. Future

    He spends more time at fundraisrers and playing golf than being a president....what a dufuss.

    May 14, 2014 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  21. gino king

    Obama has been alive for decades and still has no idea how money works or where it comes from. It's fascinating that the most powerful person in the world can be so inept that he still thinks the problem is simply the 'other' political party.

    May 14, 2014 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  22. destroyerofeconomies

    Obama is a lying media hoar

    May 14, 2014 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  23. Robert Campbell

    I implore federal and state governments to study and evaluate the permanent business which shut down as a result of impending access to thier establishments to create tempory employment.

    May 14, 2014 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  24. DaveNYUSA

    Tear down this bridge?!
    What an idiot.

    May 14, 2014 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  25. Anon

    These republican scum only want to fund projects for the big oil companies that own them. The are the worst kind of bribe-accepting criminals, and anyone who votes for them is voting for corruption and the rule of the rich over the rest of America. They are NOT patriots!

    May 14, 2014 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
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