Obama: OK funds for roads, bridges, ports
by The Associated Press
May 15, 2014 12:57 AM | 384 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
President Barack Obama speaks near the base of the Tappan Zee Bridge in Tarrytown, N.Y., on Wednesday. Obama is calling on Congress to pass a $302 billion transportation infrastructure bill White House officials say would support millions of jobs.<br> The Associated Press
President Barack Obama speaks near the base of the Tappan Zee Bridge in Tarrytown, N.Y., on Wednesday. Obama is calling on Congress to pass a $302 billion transportation infrastructure bill White House officials say would support millions of jobs.
The Associated Press
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TARRYTOWN, N.Y. — With New York’s aging Tappan Zee Bridge looming behind him, President Barack Obama challenged congressional Republicans to spend more money on the nation’s crumbling roads, see-through bridges and outdated ports, or face losing businesses to other countries.

“We’ve got ports that aren’t ready for the next generation of cargo ships,” Obama said against a backdrop of cranes replacing the 58-year-old Tappan Zee. “We’ve got more than 100,000 bridges that are old enough to qualify for Medicare.”

Obama used the major Hudson River crossing point north of New York City and its $3.9 billion replacement project to illustrate a fast-track system he initiated, saying it cut the permitting time from five years to 1 1/2 years.

He blamed Republicans for not authorizing more money for construction and repairs and warned without congressional action, the Highway Trust Fund, used to pay for transportation projects, will run dry. He accused Republicans of voting against additional spending, even as they gladly show up at ribbon cutting ceremonies for projects they refused to finance.

“They are more interested in saying ‘no’ because they are worried that maybe they’d have to be at a bill signing with me,” Obama said.

Republicans contended Obama was hypocritical for claiming credit for the expedited process, while his administration has yet to decide the fate of a proposed Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline. The GOP is using the up-in-the-air project to bash Democrats ahead of the November elections.

“It’s a real challenge to listen to the president talk about reforming the permitting system when he’s been sitting on the permit for the country’s largest shovel-ready infrastructure program, the Keystone XL pipeline, for five years,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Obama noted over the last 50 years, the United States’ spending on transportation as a share of the economy has shrunk by 50 percent, while European countries are spending twice as much.

“We shouldn’t watch the top-rated airports and seaports, or the fastest rail lines or fastest Internet networks get built somewhere else,” he said.

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