House GOP Leader: Not "An Easy Answer" to "Just Spend More" on Transportation

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(Washington, DC -- Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) pushed back directly Monday on the Obama Administration calls for increased transportation infrastructure funding.

In an extended exchange with reporters, Cantor said that throwing more money at the nation's transportation infrastructure isn't responsible in the face of mounting government debt. "It's not some easy answer, 'just spend more'. I mean, again, the American people are tired of that," he said.

President Barack Obama is expected to make a push for more spending on research and development and transportation infrastructure in his State of the Union address Tuesday night. Even as the White House and Congress embark on likely difficult negotiations over how to curb overall spending levels, the White House says the president wants to continue to invest in sectors he thinks can help spur economic growth.

Cantor acknowledged that the transportation system is in ill health. "I don't think anybody tell you that our nation's transportation infrastructure is in a state of existence that we would accept," he said.

Republicans are starting to talk about boosting public-private partnerships as a way to leverage more transportation dollars. At the same time, conservatives in the House are calling on their colleagues to kill $10 billion in high-speed rail projects funded mostly by the stimulus.

"Everything is on the table. We've just got to learn how to prioritize and do more with less in all areas of government," Cantor said.