May 14th, 2014
04:55 PM ET
7 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The President spoke at the Washington Irving Boat Club just north of New York City, using the outdated Tappan Zee Bridge as a backdrop.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. ermentrude

    Why, President Obama, do you have to take a good idea and drape in it with partisanship? It doesn't work. Why do you keep doing it?

    May 14, 2014 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  2. Pad

    Why do I care about a light-rail north of Seattle? How about we let states have the money to do what each state thinks is necessary? Nevermind. I know the answer - the federal government likes to blackmail the states by denying highway funds if they don't behave.

    May 14, 2014 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  3. just asking

    obama is great at tearing things down.... our country, our economy, our jobs, our stature, and now bridges.

    May 14, 2014 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    "We can't expect Reince or the righties to remember the 800 THOUSAND jobs LOST the month before Obama took office."

    They spent years making this a footnote in American history, so no, I doubt they want to revive those thousands jobs lost months as being actual truth.

    May 14, 2014 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  5. knklhead

    But what single corporation benefits from a bridge being repaired? If the Repubs can't figure out how it winds up in unlimited campaign financing from a fat cat, it's a no-go.

    May 14, 2014 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  6. Fred Jones

    IT'S TIME TO DECLARE A NATIONAL EMERGENCY AND BEGIN REBUILDING THE INFRASTRUCTURE FOR AMERICA. The republican party needs to be forcibly removed from office for committing high treason against the people of the United States!

    May 14, 2014 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  7. Chipper

    We need to build new Bridges and Tunnels so Obama's FREE STUFF Government Dependents have something to live under when he is out of office

    May 14, 2014 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  8. tom l

    rs,

    Taxes were cut for every single American under the Bush tax cuts (not just the dastardly rich as you like to mislead and obfuscate). They also resulted in an increase in revenue every single year from 2002-2007.

    May 14, 2014 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  9. O'drama ya Mama

    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."

    First off, if Republican governors actually used the stimulus money to stimulate their economies instead of using it to balance their state budgets this would not be a problem. Secondly, Obama cant doing anything on the Keystone Pipeline, only Congress can.

    May 14, 2014 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  10. TomGI

    Mr President, quit trying to fast track the Trans-Pacific Partnership into law.
    Mr President, kill the Keystone Pipeline to send high cost oil from Canada to the global oil market via an American route.
    Mr. President, force America to invest in solar and wind power and dump plans for nuclear power plants.
    Mr. President, don't sell out Americans to corporations.

    May 14, 2014 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  11. Bill Smells

    We tried to restrict access to the bridges in NJ and now he wants us to tear them down?

    May 14, 2014 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  12. tom l

    @Bill
    "Then Republicans began telling us we didn't have to pay"
    ======

    Please find me one repub that has ever said that there shouldn't be any taxes paid.

    May 14, 2014 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  13. Bill Smells

    Wait, what? We already gave a few billion dollars toward "shovel ready" projects. What happened to all that money? Doesn't feel like it stimulated much more than Democratic donors' pockets.

    May 14, 2014 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  14. Bill Smells

    "We can't expect Reince or the righties to remember the 800 THOUSAND jobs LOST the month before Obama took office."

    And we can't expect the Democrats to remember all those who have dropped from the work force since then either.

    May 14, 2014 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  15. Chris-E...al

    I think he 0bambi should biuld a sweat factory that makes socks and underwear where they can keep a fresh pair to change into after nov also .

    May 14, 2014 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  16. Name jsmallz

    Wasn't this funded already. Where did the money go?

    May 14, 2014 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  17. Miami Mike

    Let us throw money at Obama's Union buddies and get structures for 4 x the price and dragged our for years!!!

    May 14, 2014 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  18. Mark

    Now the country's infrastructure is going to run out of money, social security sometime in the near future how come we never about welfare or food stamps running out of money?

    May 14, 2014 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  19. mrl

    NY should pay for their own bridge with the money they steal from the wealthy. I could care less if they have one.

    May 14, 2014 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  20. Frank

    People are welcome to make a contribution to pay down the national debt. To those who advocate for higher taxes and giving more money to the federal government; please visit the "treasurydirect" government webpage and make a gift contribution. As of fiscal 2014, only $3.4 million in gift contributions were made. Where are the 65 million voters who elected the commander in chief? It only takes one dollar per 2012 voter to reach 65 million dollars. I made a contribution. Now will you contribute a little more to pay down the national debt?

    May 14, 2014 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  21. Wade

    Then why did Obama not use the 844 billion he was given for infrastructure? No he wasted it. Remember SHOVEL READY JOBS? Obama is a liar a fraud and a total incompetent.

    May 14, 2014 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  22. mrl

    Taxpayers gave BILLIONS to all this ARRA grant garbage, which was supposedly supposed to be used by the democrats to fund "shovel ready" projects like bridges and roads across the country. WHERE did that money go? WHAT did they spend it on other than studying how shrimp swim, dog parks, $5M out-houses, and sending a ton of money overseas to build Mosques?

    May 14, 2014 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  23. m123

    What happened to the trillion dollars we were supposed to spend on infrastructure under his stimulus?
    Oh yeah, most of the money went to Wall Street Banks and International Banks.
    So let's pay another trillion so we can give more money to these corporate crooks.

    May 14, 2014 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  24. Bill in Florida

    Preibus is pretty rich; the stimulus alone saved a million or more jobs (not to mention the "auto bailout" probably saved another million). Plus the GAO states plainly that Keystone will create only 300 full-time jobs, not the thousands that the GOP keepps lying about.

    May 14, 2014 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  25. Mark

    Obama's administration will not approve the keystone pipeline due to his pal, Buffet's railroad carries that oil now.

    May 14, 2014 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
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