May 14th, 2014
04:55 PM ET
6 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.

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The President spoke at the Washington Irving Boat Club just north of New York City, using the outdated Tappan Zee Bridge as a backdrop.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

    Obama brought this upon himself when he rammed so many things through the republicans and laughed about being the ruling party.

    Obama chose the short-term over the long-term and we suffer

    May 14, 2014 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  2. DH

    Repubs can give billions in tax cuts to big oil and wealthy repub farmers to grow nothing, $10 trillion on 2 wars and $24 billion to shut down the government but we have to off set bullet proof vests for police and reconstruction and fixing of our roads and bridges.

    We have got to move these Repubs out of ofc. They are killing us just like bush almost did.

    May 14, 2014 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  3. Gretchen

    Let's have a state by state vote. Those states that want infrastructure improvements vote YES, via the representatives in DC, get funds to go ahead and rebuild the roads and bridges. Those states that the representatives vote NO will get nothing. Lets see which representative have the cojones to vote for the funds.

    May 14, 2014 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  4. mike in NH

    I don't agree with Obama often but he is right on the transportation budget. WE need to fund our infrastructure like we did in the 60's and 70's. We built it new then now its old and needs a lot of work. Time to increase the gas tax and direct all of it to transportation, primarily roads. If we don't do this we risk having a third world transportation system.

    May 14, 2014 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  5. Name

    Let's trickle down infrastructure spending Reagan style:). Jk it's smart to use the god of republicanism to prove your point. Touchee

    May 14, 2014 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  6. Gretchen

    Let's have a state by state vote. Those states that want infrastructure improvements vote YES, via the representatives in DC, get funds to go ahead and rebuild the roads and bridges. Those states that the representatives vote NO will get nothing. Lets see which representative will vote for the funds.

    May 14, 2014 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  7. george t hibbs

    Who in the Democratic party would want Obama's endorsement at their fund raiser????

    May 14, 2014 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  8. Susan

    When are you going to realize Mr. President that the Republican Party and Supreme Court aren't interested in giving you or this country the time of day on _anything_ that will take money out of the filthy rich pockets or promote the well being of the lower income middle class.

    May 14, 2014 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  9. boboldschoolbolin

    we have too many roads and bridges and trains anyway. Since cars/gas/insurance are out of reach of a growing number of people, we should just let all of the excess infrastructure crumble. The wealthy should be able to use private airplanes, helicopters and the poor to carry them around on their shoulders. And the poor will be healthier if they are not breathing fumes while living under the abandoned bridges.

    May 14, 2014 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  10. tstorm92

    President Obama, Republicans don't care! Pure and simple. Conservatives only care about Republicans, not Americans.

    May 14, 2014 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  11. Bubba

    Republicans love America, unless that love involves money. Our hearts are found alongside our money. Time for the GOP to recognize their hypocrisy.

    May 14, 2014 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  12. tstorm92

    Mr. President, Republicans "don't care"! Conservatives only care about Republicans, not Americans.

    May 14, 2014 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  13. Aubry

    If one side is always trying to damage the country, or cheer for more bad news while the other is in power, what has politics truly become in this country? It's destructive.

    May 14, 2014 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  14. Spinner

    Republicans would rather drive over a cliff into a chasm if it was Obama's idea to build a bridge over it. (Eye roll)

    May 14, 2014 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  15. badtobone

    So if the last 830 billion stimulus was spent on everything but infrastructure. What's going to be any different this time

    May 14, 2014 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  16. Killah

    Public transportation works but few use it in this berg, this road is tied up at rush hour because of people using personal motor cars.

    May 14, 2014 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  17. Alan

    One of the biggest problems for Obama is him not being neutral on issues and always campaigning even after he was elected. He blames everything on republicans....if you can't be neutral and be democratic then should have never ran for office. I'm ready for this joker to get out...this has nothing to do with a race thing either. He is just not a president.

    May 14, 2014 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  18. FunctionForm

    I'm just guessing that Eisenhower wasn't $18 Trillion in debt.

    May 14, 2014 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  19. itdontmatter

    and in the election the republicans will complain about the infrastructure and how Obama didn't do anything about it.

    and the republican answer is build a pipeline instead of fix our roads?

    May 14, 2014 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  20. navaJohn

    We are SO far behind in public transportation that it isn't funny. It's sad.

    May 14, 2014 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  21. Alex

    Doing what he does best... point the finger.
    Bush was bad, but he's giving GW a run for his money. Arrogant and spiteful, all the while doing very little. The big change has implemented... Obamacare is a disaster that our younger generation will be paying for.
    2016 can't come soon enough.

    May 14, 2014 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  22. Josh

    The republicans are lairs. We must raise taxs. Period !!

    May 14, 2014 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  23. strugglewithgluten

    na.....it's much better for republicans if our infrastructure falls apart. That way, they can at least campaign on something even though they are responsible for the problem. Typical GOP stance – create the problem and then campaign on it.

    May 14, 2014 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  24. Jodo

    Sorry obama, but you already got your highway funds. It was part of the classically doomed, laugh a minute, shovel ready, STIMULUS that cost the taxpayers $800 Billion dollars.

    You mismanaged the programs and squandered the money and you have nothing to show for it. But wasn't that SUMMER of RECOVERY a hoot?

    May 14, 2014 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  25. Jo

    So....how do we spend this money that doesn't exist again? Where does it come from? I heard some crazy number that so far the Obamas vacations have cost us $44 million. Hmm perhaps they could do what the rest of us taxed-to-death people do and get creative and do a stay-cation. Perhaps just staying home with each other would be a bit healthier AND a bit more cost effective.

    I don't think Obozo understands simple economics. If you don't have the money, don't spend it!

    May 14, 2014 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
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