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The President spoke at the Washington Irving Boat Club just north of New York City, using the outdated Tappan Zee Bridge as a backdrop.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

    Can all the politicians please shut up and go to work...

    May 14, 2014 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  2. cneder

    What would Francis Underwood do? What a small small little boy.

    May 14, 2014 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    "But spend a dollar here in America for VA Hospitals, or bridges, or health care for Americans, or increased Benghazi Embassy security? "No No NO" scream the Republicans, with American blood dripping from their fingers."

    The only thing stopping them from agreeing to it is who is in charge, i.e., who would get the credit for signing it into law. When it's a Dem, they claim that all of those things...anything that helps Amurikans...is just a "vote grab." when it's a GOPer in office or they think they can grab the credit, they're all for it, but then they spend that money after cutting taxes in order to kill two gov'ts with one stone, so to speak. I mean, the way they see it, it breaks down like this:

    "Sure, we'll pay for VA improvements and stuff, so long as we get the credit and so long as it's coupled with tax cuts and would therefore create a massive deficit we can then use as a bludgeon to demand the defunding and dismantling of SS and Medicare."

    May 14, 2014 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    "Not that long ago, Americans were willing to pay to build and maintain a Great Country"

    Not any more. The GOP/Teatrolls need to protect the geographic isolation and division of the populace that is the only thing keeping them afloat at this point. Integration of the rural population with the rest of society in terms of education, jobs, etc., would kill the GOP/Teatrolls outright.

    May 14, 2014 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  5. Richard

    Office pool: guesses now being accepted. How many Republicans will have to fall to their deaths on collapsing bridges and crumbling highways before our comatose Congress begins to awaken to the impending disasters?

    May 14, 2014 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  6. WOW

    OMG..last week it was minimum wage, then before that war on women, before that is affordable education guarantees, now we get infrastructure and just today, guarantees for new home buyers...I guess if you throw enough stuff on the wall something has to stick...and who is going to PAY for all this stuff!!!
    Maybe, just maybe, Obama should stay in Washington and work on getting just one of these things done instead of pontificating and getting nothing done....

    May 14, 2014 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  7. Mainscribe

    Obama always puts legislation to rebuild infrastructure with an amendment that also Bans something important like the pipeline or gives the EPA the right to carry AR15s...Not happenin you crook! Tell Harry Reid to stuff it...

    May 14, 2014 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  8. Harsh Realities

    Let those that use the bridge pay for a new one. Raise local gas taxes in NY and NJ, raise the toll for using the bridge. We don't need another "Big Dig" like they had in Boston that was paid for by those who never visit Boston.

    May 14, 2014 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  9. BEAUSEPHUS

    After reading half these comments, I think it's time to break out the tinfoil hat!

    May 14, 2014 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  10. Joe

    Obama you better spend another billion dollar on a few web sites that don't work then maybe everyone in America will give you their $2500 their saving on health coverage. HAHAHA

    May 14, 2014 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  11. Mainscribe

    Its because Obama, Reid and the rest of the Democratic liars lace the legislation with freedom killing amendments...So, Dems, you can stuff it, we are not going to let another Obamacare slip through and ruin this nation...

    May 14, 2014 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  12. revbro

    Benghazi and the Pipeline... 4 Americans killed in the line of duty versus the 4000 Americans killed in Iraq in the line of duty. Pipeline... creates 1000 jobs for a couple months and then dwindles to 33 jobs.. the oil will be refined and shipped out and helps US citizens... zero. Hundreds of thousands of ongoing construction jobs for many years, making our roads and bridges safe. Republicans sure have their priorities in order.

    May 14, 2014 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  13. bgg

    Obuma: Approve this pipeline!

    May 14, 2014 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  14. Cryo Genus

    So, how exactly are the Republicans to blame for this? What specifically have they done or not done? Either the author is skimping on specifics or the President is.

    May 14, 2014 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  15. VoteBlueNov2014 - Resist Privatization

    The President mentioned several Republican presidents who came before who would never be accpted by today's right-wing nuts running that party. The President wants to put people to work but the Koch puppets just keep screaming, "Benghazi," and have been paid to do nothing. Nothing for jobs or helthcare. Under Republican control, all roads, bridges and schools would be private for-profits AND unregulated. Say no. Participate and vote Democratic this year.

    May 14, 2014 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  16. Douglas Hyde

    Good Luck President Obama.....and I really mean that. With this Do Nothing Congress it will be impossible. Their entire agenda is....To Do Nothing! Except to make sure that President Obama gets as little done as possible. Their twisted thinking, they think will get the Senate and the Presidency back to the GOP. Politics is their business, they could care less about our country, our infrastructure or putting people back to work. As a matter of fact, the higher the unemployment rate is, the worse the economy is, plays right into their agenda. I am an optimistic person.....the negativity within the GOP congress is an embarrassment to all Americans.

    May 14, 2014 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  17. Lizzie

    He stood in front of another bridge that he said collapsed because of age, (was engineering fault) , now he has another photo op, do any of his big supporter need to be paid off?????

    May 14, 2014 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  18. anchorite

    "He called on Republicans in Congress to 'not fight on something we all know makes sense.'" Oh come on, if they gave that up, what would the GOP have left?

    May 14, 2014 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  19. samsjmail

    Every time Rick Perry lures a company to relocate to Texas, they get a tax abatement, so we get increased population without any increase in revenue. That's why any new highways built in Texas are toll roads, and we can't fund our public schools.

    May 14, 2014 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  20. Kevin

    I'm a Republican, democrats are stupid heads. I'm a democrat, republicans are rednecks. For gods sake, does anyone in this country have an original thought anymore? Shouldn't expect that from posters, but from the prez, I'm pretty sure I can. Nothing but prefabbed Red/Blue banter. Perfect for the Red and Blue you see.

    May 14, 2014 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  21. Charles

    You've lost us Mr. President. We don't want your lies anymore, and take Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi with you.

    May 14, 2014 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  22. blakenaustin

    GOP to Obama: Stop the deception and compulsive lying. Stop the fiscal irresponsibility. Stop the social policy nightmares. Stop the end runs on Congress and the U.S. constitution. Stop the criminal activity. Stop the scandals. Resign!

    May 14, 2014 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  23. Steve

    A Harvard education just isn't worth what it used to be.

    They do produce some pretty hard-core communists however. I'll give them their due on that issue.

    May 14, 2014 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  24. dawshoss

    New context for "they didn't build that"...ie the GOP not doing squat...as always.

    May 14, 2014 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  25. msradell

    Wait a minute, the transportation trust fund receives money from gasoline taxes, why should it be supplemented with money from the general budget? I know it's politically a poison pill but why not just raise gasoline taxes to cover the needs of the transportation industry. An alternative would be a different way to get money from the uses the transportation systems to pay their portion of the costs but whatever method is chosen a should come from the users of the transportation systems and not from the general budget.

    May 14, 2014 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
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