“Accordingly, the $50 billion investment proposed by President Obama must be part of a long-term reauthorization bill and not a stand-alone measure,” Ruane says in a prepared statement. “Infrastructure investment is a proven, cost-effective public policy that provides recurring benefits for decades to come.”
Jim Oberstar, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman (D-Minn.), is supportive of Obama’s proposal , has also voiced a willingness to work with the president. “The principles outlined by the President are consistent with those put forward by the Committee in the Blueprint for Investment and Reform and the Surface Transportation Authorization Act,” Oberstar says, according NSSGA’s Washington Watch Special Legislative Update.
However, U.S. Rep. John L. Mica (R-Fla.), House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Republican leader, vehemently opposed the President’s latest infrastructure spending proposal.
Following Obama’s announcement, Mica issued a statement saying that he would not support “another tax and spend proposal while billions of transportation and infrastructure funds sit idle.
“I don’t know what planet these people have been living on for the last 18 months,” Mica says in the press statement. “They hijacked the $862 billion so-called stimulus, leaving less than 7 percent in the bill for infrastructure, and they failed to ensure that even this small percentage of funds would be spent expeditiously. Then the Administration undermined their Democrat House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman and killed any chance for a six-year transportation reauthorization bill.”
Mica argues that while it appears that the Obama Administration is doing something about job loss by proposing to spend more money on infrastructure with another stimulus effort, he points out that only 32 percent of the infrastructure funding approved 18 months ago in the first stimulus has been spent.
“Projects continue to be bogged down by bureaucracy and red tape,” Mica continues. “Moving some of the tens of billions of infrastructure dollars that continue to sit idle should be an Administration priority to get people working and stalled major projects moving forward. Unemployment has now climbed to 9.6 percent nationwide. In the hard-hit construction industry, joblessness exceeds an astronomical 30 percent in some states like Florida. (For Mica’s blog on transportation, go to http://www.republicans.transportation.house.gov.)
Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) says it has been “disappointed by the administration’s failure up until this point to focus on long-term infrastructure investment,” but it points out that “the construction industry would almost certainly have been worse off without last year’s stimulus bill. But a one-time infusion of cash is like giving a sick patient a pain killer: It makes them feel better for a short time, but it doesn’t address the underlying problem.”
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