Government Issues

Obama calls on Congress to pass 'bipartisan infrastructure plan'

Posted on January 21, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In his 2015 State of the Union address, President Obama called on Congress to "pass a bipartisan infrastructure plan," but stopped short of calling for a federal gas tax increase to help pay for it, The Hill reported.

RELATED: U.S. senators push to raise gas tax to shore up Trust Fund

“So let’s set our sights higher than a single oil pipeline," Obama said, citing the Keystone XL oil pipeline. "Let’s pass a bipartisan infrastructure plan that could create more than 30 times as many jobs per year, and make this country stronger for decades to come.” 

Transportation advocates have pushed for an increase in the 18.4 cent-per-gallon tax to help pay for infrastructure projects, and the idea has picked up some steam on Capitol Hill, as gas prices have declined sharply in recent months, according to The Hill. Instead, Obama stuck to his previous proposals of closing corporate tax loopholes to pay for transportation projects.

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Statement by APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy on the 2015 State of the Union

On behalf of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and its 1,500 members across the country, I applaud President Obama for stating that “21st century businesses need 21st century infrastructure – modern ports, stronger bridges, faster trains…”  I also applaud President Obama for saying, “Let’s pass a bipartisan infrastructure plan…and make this country stronger for decades to come.”

Americans want Congress and the President to break the gridlock and work together. As President Obama pointed out, infrastructure is a bipartisan issue.  APTA believes that Republicans and Democrats should be able to find common ground on and move forward to pass a multi-year, multimodal, well-funded surface transportation bill before the May 31 deadline.  Congress must also fund the Highway Trust Fund, which includes the Mass Transit Account.

In his State of the Union, President Obama talked about jobs and how important it is for everyone to have economic opportunity in this great nation.  Public transportation plays an important role in helping millions of people become economically independent since nearly 60 percent of the trips taken on public transportation are for work commutes.

Transportation is the economic backbone of our economy.  With President Obama’s remarks on economic opportunity and the need to update our infrastructure needs, it should be noted that every $1 invested in public transportation leads to $4 in economic returns.  Economically competitive communities need quality public transportation.

At a time of growing demand for public transportation (10.7 billion trips in 2013 – the highest in 57 years), public transportation funding should be a priority, not only to expand public transit access, but also to provide adequate funding to address the $86 billion in backlog projects to ensure safe, reliable, and modern public transportation services.

As we approach the May 31 deadline for a new surface transportation bill, it is critical that our national leaders come together to create legislation that will ensure years of economic growth and opportunity for communities across the country. As President Obama said at the conclusion of his remarks, “Let’s start the work right now.”

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