Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood ripped into newly elected Republicans Friday for blocking efforts to launch a new infrastructure program, saying they want to keep President Obama from having success.
Asked at an infrastructure conference why Congress is finding it so hard to spend on transportation to help dig out of recession, LaHood, a former Republican House member from IIlinois, said “some people don’t want Obama to be successful. They don’t. You know that.”
He said “America’s one big pothole right now,” but that “it’s not for lack of leadership on this administration.”
LaHood told the conference, sponsored by the Washington Post and Norfolk Southern Railway, that “a big percentage of the Republicans who were elected this time came here to do zero. And that’s what they’ve done. And they’ve obstructed those other people who want to get something done, from getting anything done.”
He contrasted that attitude with when he was elected to the House in 1994. “We had a very reform-minded class – 82 new people -- but they came here to do something , to solve problems. Almost always in the past when people have run for Congress, they ran for Congress on the opportunity to help solve problems in America.”
However, last fall “there were probably 40 Republicans elected to the House to come here to do nothing,” LaHood said. “That’s why they felt they were elected.” He made the comments a day after saying he would leave public office at the end of this term. LaHood oh Friday said he hopes to next do something more lucrative, but he made clear that he strongly agrees with Obama’s transportation policies.
Despite the obstructionism he described in Congress, LaHood said the time is right for some breakthroughs on transportation investments. He reiterated that he expects Congress to pass some sort of infrastructure measure by the end of this year. Lawmakers will act, he said, “because Congress is very low in the polls, and people are hurting. People are hurting very badly.”