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The President spoke at the Washington Irving Boat Club just north of New York City, using the outdated Tappan Zee Bridge as a backdrop.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

    Priebus is an idiot.

    May 14, 2014 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  2. edmundburkeson

    In order to tear down this bridge Obama must tear down the wall of his own making – between the parties. that takes leadership ability Mr. President!

    May 14, 2014 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  3. Dr. Strangelove

    Whenever a democrat says something is "common sense", I am immediately suspect. The average democrat wouldn't know common sense if it hit them in the face.

    May 14, 2014 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  4. westbest

    He's concerned about jobs? lol! Then approve Keystone pipeline which would create thousands of jobs without government money.

    May 14, 2014 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  5. Bill Davis

    Obama, you are no Regan

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

    Biggest threat to national security, the division that exist in our Congress, not because they can't agree on what is best for The United States of America, but rather because they can't agree on what is best for themselves.

    May 14, 2014 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  7. Publius...

    This guy makes everything partisan. He causes the nation to blame a party by speaking specifically to a party and saying not to be partisan. HE has been doing this ever since he has come into office. The midterm elections, he goes to one side and says pick all dems. But when it is time to get some good done, he is blaming the people whose toes he stepped on for not wearing steel toe boots. He plays politics and tries to blame repubs for doing the same. What happened to "not a red america, not a blue america, its the united states of america"? What happened to the transparent government he asked for? Cover up certain things or discourage investigations of certain events, back room deals, etc. but want to have romney show his taxes??? This guy is a clown...

    May 14, 2014 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  8. carl

    only now in an election year

    May 14, 2014 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  9. don in albuquerque

    You really think trickle down was a success? Why not go curl up with the rest of the GOTP beside RR. You do realize where he is?

    May 14, 2014 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  10. Grumpster

    Ike built the socialist interstate system, yet the same party is letting the entire thing fall apart back to the 1950's just like everything else they want to take back in time.

    May 14, 2014 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  11. carl

    why does he come and say this now

    May 14, 2014 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  12. srcactus

    This guy sure does talk a lot and often. How about some acts that will spur job growth from economic growth Mr. President?
    At some point we must pay for all of this good stuff so lets get out in front of the problem by building the economy not just visible public works monuments.

    May 14, 2014 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  13. Gurgyl

    I AM GLAD I VOTED FOR THIS PRESIDENT TWICE. God bless him. True. Infrastructure is a dire need in here. Focus on Airports like LaGuardia, JFK ETC.,

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

    Just wait till an important repub is crossing a bridge and the bridge collapse. Then maybe, just maybe the House will ok the funding

    May 14, 2014 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  15. joeamerican

    liberalism is a mental disorder, written by Dr Michael Savage......

    May 14, 2014 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  16. TruthandConsequence

    Our roads and highways are in increasing trouble, but the GOP has reason to balk at the way the Democrats spend – over $800 billion in "stimulus" that failed to stimulate and "shovel ready" jobs which forgot the shovels. Approve the Keystone pipeline with its thousand of jobs and the Dems may once again be taken seriously.

    May 14, 2014 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  17. bill birch

    One bridge in my state took 10 years to replace costing 500 million. This bridge is within a 5 mile stretch of continual road construction over a decade in length on I-5. This stretch of construction is over 750 million due to career construction. This is not infrastructure repair. Its permastruction

    May 14, 2014 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  18. jason

    more appropriate would be ....tear down this wall of racism

    May 14, 2014 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  19. Ken

    Bill from GA – "Not long ago Americans were willing to pay to build and maintain a Great Country". Yes, that was before the internet and continual reports of Gov't miss management and abuse within Gov't costing tax payers billions per year. Don't even get me started on the welfare state and the abuses that occur there. Being a donkey it doesn't surprise me that your solution would involve taxing the upper and middle classes as they are generally going to be the ones driving more and buying more gas. Do whatever you can to make life that much easier for the lazy that are taking advantage of you, your mother, your father, your brother, your sister, your children and your grand children.

    May 14, 2014 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  20. Guest

    I'm sure he could hire some Russians to tear it down. We won't even have rebuild they can just keep it, part of being more flexible 2nd term around hahahahahahhahahahah

    May 14, 2014 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  21. joeamerican

    Mr Ozero is tearing down the economic, financial, military, citizenship, and Christian structures of this once great country. Obuma is doing everything is his power to make this an unexceptional country, and his minions are happy about it. America's first affirmative action pReSiDent!

    May 14, 2014 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  22. rob

    @Bill from GA
    We were told by the Administration and all the Dems in congress that if we spent the $800 + BILLION there were millions od "shovel ready Jobs" that were ready to go on just these types of projects. It was a lie then and it's a lie now. The federal Highway Trust Fund is dwindling because of less Gas Tax revenue because less Americans are working therefore they can't afford to drive.
    This is an election year Red Herring that will be parroted by the liberal media to blame Republicans.

    May 14, 2014 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  23. TheLeftWing

    Remember when Republicans battle cry was "jobs, jobs, jobs." Now here is a chance to do something that the nation needs and will produce jobs. Of course, the Democrats have been pushing infrastructure for some time now, and the typical Republican response is we don't want to pay for it. If Republicans continue in that vein, Republicans should change their cry to no jobs, no jobs, no jobs.

    May 14, 2014 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  24. Grant Humes

    Anything that does not further Republicans political agenda is trash!

    May 14, 2014 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  25. Rob

    Both Democrats and Republicans are lame. Poor Americans bickering with each other. How pathetic. Both parties should be eliminated.

    May 14, 2014 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
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