Obama urges passage of piece of jobs bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Pressing for passage of the transportation piece of his stalled jobs bill, President Barack Obama suggested Wednesday that lawmakers are out of touch and urged them to fall in line with the big majority of the public he said supports him. Even God wants to see the unemployed put back to work, he said.

Obama said the nation’s aging transportation network costs U.S. businesses and families about $130 billion a year, a sum he was a tax and a drag on the economy. Failing to upgrade the network could cost the U.S. hundreds of billions dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs by the end of the decade, he said.

The Senate plans to vote Thursday on whether to take up the measure — $50 billion for road, bridge and other repairs and $10 billion to attract private money to help finance such projects. Obama said the measure would help get some of the more than 1 million unemployed construction workers back on the job.

Like Obama’s earlier jobs proposals, this piece is expected to be unanimously opposed by Republicans and a few Democrats who object to any new spending and to the president’s plan for a new tax on the wealthy to help pay for it.

Obama said the public is on his side and that lawmakers will have to answer to their constituents if they don’t pass it.

“There’s no good reason to oppose this bill. Not one,” he said at the Key Bridge, which connects the District of Columbia and Arlington, Va. “And members of Congress who do, who vote no, are going to have to explain why to their constituencies. The American people are with me with this. And it’s time for folks running around spending all their time talking about what’s wrong with America to spend some time rolling up their sleeves to help us make it right.”

The government has identified the Key Bridge as needing the type of crucial repair and maintenance that Obama says his bill would help pay for.

The president also tried to shame the Republican-controlled House by accusing its leaders of wasting time during a jobs crisis with debates over commemorative baseball coins and reaffirming “In God We Trust” as the nation’s motto. The House has refused to consider Obama’s jobs bill.

“That’s not putting people back to work,” Obama said. “I trust in God, but God wants to see us help ourselves by putting people back to work. There’s work to be done. There are workers ready to do it. The American people are behind this.”

A House Republican aide said less than 20 minutes were devoted to the baseball coins and U.S. motto. The aide also noted that more than a dozen House-passed bills to create jobs by reducing regulations and altering tax laws have been awaiting action in the Democratic-led Senate.

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