President Signals Support for Transportation Reauthorization

President Obama reiterated his support for greater investment in the nation's infrastructure in last week's State of the Union address. However, the suggestion that highway improvements should be funded with dollars previously allocated for the military met with sharp criticism from opponents and industry stakeholders.

Speaking broadly on Jan. 25 about his agenda, President Obama said in the next few weeks he planned to sign an executive order that would clear away the "red tape" that slows down construction projects because "so much of America needs to be rebuilt." But the President also acknowledged the need for project funding, an issue that has been at the heart of Congress' inability to pass a long-term highway funding bill.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R.-Fla.) criticized the President's plan, while announcing that the House would unveil its version of a highway bill this week, which will be funded through increased U.S. energy production and reduced energy costs.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said last week that he expects it will be another year before Congress can agree on a highway bill because of huge differences between the House and the Senate and because of the short election-year schedule.

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