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Obama Calls for Highway Bill to Fund Transportation, Infrastructure Projects

8/31/2011 3:00:00 PM
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President Obama urged Congress Wednesday to pass a highway funding bill that includes an extension of the federal gasoline tax, claiming the move would protect about 1 million jobs, news services reported.

At issue is the renewal of transportation spending bill that expires Sept. 30. Obama said failure to pass the bill by that date would result in the government losing needed money and construction workers losing needed jobs, the Associated Press reported.

The transportation bill’s key component is the federal gasoline tax, which has been 18.4 cents a gallon for nearly two decades. The money is used to fund road construction and repair, as well as other projects, Fox News reported on its website.

Obama was joined in a Rose Garden ceremony by White House by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and David Chavern, chief operating officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Earlier this year, the Chamber of Commerce and union groups both pressed for more transportation and infrastructure spending.

American Trucking Associations applauded the President’s push for more transportation spending.

“President Obama is right to tell Congress to focus on the long-overdue highway bill,� said Mary Phillips, ATA’s senior vice president for legislative affairs.

“We saw the havoc that a temporary shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration had on that sector, and the country cannot afford the job losses and lapse in safety programs that would result from the highway bill expiring,� she said in a statement

“Given the unlikelihood that the House and Senate will agree on a long-term bill by the Sept. 30 deadline, another extension is necessary,� she said. “However, Congress must also quickly craft a well-funded multi-year transportation bill . . . to improve the safety and efficiency of the highway system.�

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