Obama hits the road this week to urge boost to highway fund

WASHINGTON Sun May 11, 2014 12:25pm EDT

President Barack Obama returns from a 3-day visit in California, to the White House in Washington May 9, 2014. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

President Barack Obama returns from a 3-day visit in California, to the White House in Washington May 9, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will push for Congress to quickly pass a bill to replenish dwindling funds for highway and bridge repairs this week, using a massive bridge-building project north of New York City as a backdrop for a speech on the issue on Wednesday.

Obama will speak at the Tappan Zee bridge, where a $3.9 billion project is underway to replace the aging, congested structure, the White House said.

He will make the case that federal funding for road and infrastructure projects could soon dry up - right in the middle of the summer construction season - unless Congress finds a way to fuel the Highway Trust Fund.

Money in the Highway Trust Fund comes from gasoline taxes, which no longer provide enough funding because of declining fuel use. Neither Congress nor the White House want to raise the taxes, which amount to 18.4 cents per gallon tax on gas and 24.4 cents per gallon on diesel.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx proposed a four-year, $302 billion package paid for by ending certain tax breaks for businesses, but reaction has been cool. [ID:nL2N0NL161] The White House has said it is open to other ideas.

"The most important thing is that we pass a long-term bill that creates jobs and provides certainty for cities, states and businesses," said White House spokesman Matt Lehrich in a statement.

The Senate Environment and Public Works committee is expected to release a bipartisan plan this week.

Vice President Joe Biden will also press the issue in visits to infrastructure projects in St. Louis, Missouri on Tuesday and Cleveland, Ohio on Wednesday.

Obama will meet with workers in the Washington DC area on Friday to discuss infrastructure, the White House said.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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Comments (3)
Bakhtin wrote:
Republicans won’t allow this. They would rather see projects halted when they run out of funds and people losing their jobs. Then they can say “look – Obama’s policies are failing!” because they put party before everything.

May 11, 2014 1:09pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
unionwv wrote:
“On the road again
Just can’t wait to get on the road again…” – Willie Nelson

… and change the subject and make another speech – Barack Obama

May 11, 2014 3:36pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
willich6 wrote:
The campaigner-in-chief is on the road, again – how surprising.. Wonder if the clubs will be going along on AF 1? Always time to ‘sneak’ a round or two in at Bethpage after a hard day campaigning..
Always pushing for more Spending, More Spending – but not a word on how we will pay for it..

This guy would be more successful if he stayed home in DC and did his job – working with Congress – painfully crafting a compromise bill or two – dealing with both sides of the aisle..

But that’s too hard for this guy – he wants the ‘glory’ of the Win, without the hard and difficult work to achieve it.

So Mr. Instant Gratification is taking his ‘show’ on the road again – playing to his adoring syncophants – while nothing ever gets done.

May 12, 2014 8:59am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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