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In his State of the Union Address yesterday, President Obama called on Congress to fund efforts to rebuild the country’s infrastructure.
Although the president did not mention rail as he has in previous State of the Union addresses, he did note the decline in the nation’s infrastructure.
“We’ve got crumbling roads and bridges; a power grid that wastes too much energy; and an incomplete high-speed broadband network that prevents a small business owner in rural America from selling her products all over the world,” Obama said.
He recalled the country’s success in building major infrastructure projects during the Great Depression as well as the interstate highway system after World War II.
“Democratic and Republican administrations invested in great projects that benefited everybody, from the workers who built them to the businesses that still use them today,” Obama said.
In the next few weeks, he plans to sign an executive order to clear “the red tape that slows down too many construction projects,” he said.
“But you need to fund these projects,” Obama told lawmakers. “Take the money we’re no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building right here at home.”
After the speech, both leaders of the House and Senate committees that oversee congressional action on infrastructure and transportation addressed Obama’s comments.
Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, agreed that the country needs to rebuild infrastructure, but he does not support “what appears to be the president’s plan to finance that effort by downsizing the military.”
In a prepared statement, Mica added: “Next week Republicans will introduce a long-stalled major transportation measure — killed two years ago by the President — that will be financed in part by increased American energy production, creating jobs and lowering energy costs.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who chairs the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, said she welcomes the president’s call to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure.
“I will do everything I can to bridge the partisan divide and we can start right away by passing a bipartisan surface transportation bill that saves or creates millions of jobs,” said Boxer in a prepared statement.
In November, Boxer’s committee passed a two-year surface transportation funding measure.
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