Amid election-year gridlock
The Obama Administration is stepping up its efforts to press Congress to provide additional funding for infrastructure projects, with just weeks remaining until the nation’s highway trust fund runs dry.
Obama will reiterate his call to pay for funding the trust fund with business tax reform this week, a White House official said, a proposal that has foundered in Congress this election year. He will also announce new executive actions to promote private sector infrastructure investment and to help states and municipalities prepare for the impact of climate change on their public works.
“The President has also been pressing Congress to act to avoid a lapse in funding of the Highway Trust Fund which will go insolvent as early as August, putting numerous active projects at risk,” the official said. “This week Congress will consider a solution to avoid that scenario, and the President will continue to urge Republican lawmakers to not block it.”
The White House will release a report Monday from the Council of Economic Advisors and National Economic Council on the long-term economic benefits of transportation investment. On Tuesday, Obama will deliver a speech at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Va. on the highway funding. The following day, Obama will meet with the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Climate Task Force on Preparedness and Resilience, where he will announce new efforts to prepare for the impacts of climate change.
Obama’s efforts come after Vice President Joe Biden addressed the nation’s governors in Nashville on Friday to highlight the need to continue funding the highway account. “You’re doing all you can,” Biden told the governors. “You’re attracting investment, while the federal government is sitting on its hands.”
“It’s just essential that we have some type of resolution,” Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, the outgoing National Governors Association chair, said Friday. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, the incoming chair, warned that Congress failing to act “will retard the growth of our economy.”
On Thursday, according to the official, Obama will visit an infrastructure project in Delaware, “where he will announce a new initiative, using his pen and his phone, to increase private sector investment in our nation’s infrastructure.”
The White House will also release a map that allows Americans to view the conditions of their local roads and bridges, as well as the economic cost of Congress failing to fund the infrastructure projects.