In a bid to address the country’s crumbling infrastructure, President Barack Obama on Wednesday will use the backdrop of New York’s outdated Tappan Zee Bridge to warn that House Republicans are jeopardizing thousands of American jobs by failing to replenish the nation’s highway trust fund.
“While a bipartisan group of members in the Senate are working toward a compromise, there has been no progress by House Republicans to date on the issue. A look at the House Republican approach to infrastructure shows the same top-down approach to the economy that isn’t good for the middle class or jobs,” a White House official said.
The White House official is referring to a transportation bill put forth by Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat.
The bill was introduced earlier this week, with some Republican support.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the Obama administration is encouraged by the Boxer bill – but officials are concerned it doesn’t go far enough.
The push comes as the federal Highway Trust Fund is rapidly dwindling, setting up a so-called “transportation cliff” toward the end of August. Fueled by gasoline taxes, the fund hasn’t been able to keep up with spending demands as Americans spend less on fuel.
Returning to the White House’s theme of a “year of action,” Obama also will announce an executive action to streamline infrastructure permitting at the federal level.
The Tappan Zee Bridge in New York’s lower Hudson Valley, a more-than-16,000 foot cantilever structure, is in a state of disrepair after years of overuse; a replacement Hudson River span is set to open in 2018.
Meanwhile, America’s highways and bridges – and other critical parts of the nation’s transportation infrastructure such as railways – need serious upgrades and repairs. The American Society of Civil Engineers gives U.S. infrastructure a D+ in terms of condition and performance.
Obama has laid out a plan that would supplement the Highway Trust Fund with $150 billion for new infrastructure investments, which the White House says would both repair dangerous roads and bridges and put more Americans back to work.