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MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript

Interview

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Joining us right now is the secretary of transportation, Ray LaHood.

You were a congressman of great note. You worked with the leadership
when you were a staffer. You have got a long history of knowing how bills
-- bills become laws. Where does this stand right now? Are we going to
get a transportation bill that creates jobs and fixes highways and bridges
or not?

RAY LAHOOD, U.S. SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION: If it`s up to Senator
Boxer and Senator Inhofe, yes. I have my fingers crossed that her hard
work, her determination -- Jim Inhofe, one of the most conservative...

MATTHEWS: As there is.

LAHOOD: ... really, really a conservative fellow. he`s on the -- in
the House trying to persuade these conferees to offer up an opportunity to
pass the bill.

MATTHEWS: Well, right now, the speaker of the House, Boehner, is
pushing for a simple six-month extension, no real growth in the program, no
expansion of it. Why is he doing that, do you think, just kicking the can
down the road?

LAHOOD: I`m pulling for Boxer and Inhofe because thousands of people
will go to work.

If they pass the Senate bill, Chris, thousands of people. We still
have an opportunity here in the construction season to get people to work.
We know what we do at DOT with our partners, the governors and the state
DOTs, puts people to work.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

LAHOOD: They need to pass the Boxer-Inhofe bill.

If they did that, thousands of people...

MATTHEWS: Well, what`s -- let`s talk about the need, not just the
need for jobs, but the needs to get this stuff done.

These aren`t make-work projects. Barbara Boxer, the senator, just
said 70,000 bridges out. They`re real bridges to nowhere if they fall down
while you`re on them.

LAHOOD: Well, look, there`s 300 bridges on the list now, Chris, that
are unsafe. We`ve got the list. They can start to fix those up
immediately as soon as Congress, the president signed the law.

MATTHEWS: Why don`t you do what I did back what I did back when I
was with Tipp and caused all kinds of trouble for your old boss Bob Michel?
Go in the House floor and list those bridges and what district it`s
represented and who the congressperson is and make them defend a bridge
that`s dangerous!

LAHOOD: Well, look, if I`m still a member --

MATTHEWS: We just have the chief engineer call it and put --

LAHOOD: Everybody has it, a bridge in their district that`s not
safe. And people need to know where these are so their member of Congress
can vote for a transportation bill. We need a bill. We need to put
America to work.

MATTHEWS: Watch the show and call their congressperson, whatever
party they`re in and tell them to do this thing.

LAHOOD: Chris, there`s a pent up demand in this country for
infrastructure. America is one big pothole right now. We need a
transportation bill. We need the Boxer-Inhofe bill.

MATTHEWS: And you know what? We`ve got to remind people up --
you`re a Republican. Lincoln was a Republican when he built the
Transcontinental Railroad.

LAHOOD: Exactly.

MATTHEWS: And Eisenhower was a Republican when he build that
national defense highway system across this country. The reason we can
ride on 90, like we`re on yesterday, and 80 and 75, and 95, and all those
interstate highways is because of Republican.

LAHOOD: Exactly. Yes, the 16th president, one of the greatest.

MATTHEWS: Eisenhower Republican right here, Ray LaHood.

Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary, secretary of transportation.

LAHOOD: Thank you, Chris.

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