WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama, seeking to save jobs in a tough economy, urged Congress on Wednesday to not hold up multibillion-dollar temporary funding bills for aviation and highway spending.
Obama said in remarks at the White House that it would be “inexcusable” for lawmakers to not act immediately on those measures when they return from their summer recess next week.
“It’s time to stop political gamesmanship,” Obama said, referring to partisan wrangling that temporarily shut down funding of airport construction projects last month and cost the U.S. Treasury $400 million in tax receipts.
Transportation spending is a key driver of economic activity and construction employment. The construction industry was hit hard by the housing downturn and joblessness in the sector exceeded 13 percent in July.
Obama’s remarks on transportation presaged his plans next week to lay out a broad strategy for creating jobs.
The law authorizing airport construction funding under the Federal Aviation Administration expires on September 16 while the one permitting the Transportation Department to award grants for highway projects ends on September 30.
Both must be extended to continue funding while lawmakers attempt to craft legislation authorizing those programs over longer periods.
Obama also said he would instruct certain federal agencies to identify high priority infrastructure construction projects to speed them through the bureaucracy, a recommendation of the White House Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. (Reporting by John Crawley and Lisa Lambert; Editing by Vicki Allen)