Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., tried to press President Obama to support a $500 billion six-year transportation spending bill during a recent Democratic caucus on Capitol Hill, but the president remained noncommittal, the Hill newspaper reported.
The newspaper reported that Obama made no commitments, but said infrastructure projects were among his priorities. Oberstar said Obama is “on track.”
Obama is under pressure to bring the country out of the recession, and congressional Democrats are turning toward transportation infrastructure projects as a way to increase jobs. In December, the House passed a jobs bill that provides $75 billion for infrastructure.
Oberstar, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, won House support for his bill last July, although the House Ways and Means Committee did not offer a way to pay for it.
When Oberstar introduced his bill, he wanted quick passage so it could take effect at the start of fiscal 2010. The White House and Senate leaders called for an 18-month extension of the existing highway program. The Senate originally followed the administration lead. Oberstar stood firm, and now the highway program will expire in February.
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