Award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein is Senior Editor for Politics & Policy for WNYC News. She has previously served as Metro Editor, Political Director, Director of Transportation Nation, and Senior Reporter.
Obama Takes 30 Minutes To Pitch Transportation Jobs Bill in DC
Wednesday, November 02, 2011 - 12:41 PM
Accompanied by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the President left the White House at 11:16 this morning for the two-and-a-half mile trip over to Washington's Key Bridge, one of the structurally deficient bridges that some 210 million Americans cross daily.
According to materials released by the White House, the DDOT says the Key Bridge needs $20 million for repairs, which has been deferred to 2015 "due to a lack of funds." The White House says if the Jobs Act passed, that work could start in 2013.
The White House also today released a report on the "economic benefits from investing in infrastructure."
"It makes absolutely no sense," said a shirt-sleeved Obama, "when there's so much of America that needs rebuilding. This week, Congress has the chance to do something about it and pass a bill that will put hundreds of thousands of construction workers back to work rebuilding our roads, bridges, airports and transit systems."
The President called for "bold action by Congress."
This will be the final pitch the President makes in front of a bridge before Congress votes.
That could come as early as today as the Senate is set to vote on the infrastructure portion of the jobs act -- some $50 billion for roads, transit, and airports, and another $10 billion to seed an infrastructure bank.
There's zero chance the bill will pass, since it's funded with a 0.7 percent surcharge on wealthy earners, which Republicans have vowed to oppose under any circumstances.
However, the White House sees clear political benefits in continuing the discussion, anyway. "He won't be the only one still talking about it," said one Democratic strategist. "Infrastructure investment is supported by Democrats and Republicans, by business and labor, by the Chamber of Congress and the AFL-CIO, so it won't go down without a fight."
It's a particularly potent issue in states like Ohio and Michigan, seen as must-win for the President in 2012.
The President was back at the White House at 11:50. He meets with Senate Democratic Leadership in the Oval Office this afternoon, and heads for leaves for the G-20 summit in Cannes, France, this evening.
With pool reports.