Calling Congress' failure to act on a transportation bill "outrageous' -- Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II, is urging his colleagues to act now.
"The gridlock in Washington must end, this is unconscionable. While elected officials play politics, people in Missouri's Fifth District could lose their jobs. Construction is already down, and if we do not act, small businesses and large corporations, alike, will be forced to abandon major construction projects. It is that simple," said U.S. Rep. Cleaver. "The fallout of this dysfunction will mean the death of thousands of jobs, a stall in the economic recovery and real people without the ability to pay very real bills. And there is nothing simple about that."
If legislation is not enacted by the end of this month, programs across the country will expire, putting more American jobs at risk and threatening the safety of our bridges and roads. This would spell disaster for the economy and for all of those hard-working men and women who will pay the price for these political games. 2.2 million construction and manufacturing workers are already out of work, and this showdown is taking place at what should be the peak of construction season.
Some lawmakers have endorsed the idea of extending the highway program for six-months if an agreement can't be reached. But local businessmen and women tell me that is not enough for them to continue the planning and execution of long-term projects. Or even short-term projects. Barely enough time to begin preparing pink slips.
"An extension is not the answer. It's not even a responsible short-term fix. It is another excuse for Congress not getting the job done. The Senate has already passed a bill with bipartisan support -- I am calling on all House members, Democrats and Republicans, to step up and do the same," said Congressman Cleaver.
In March, the Senate overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan, two year transportation bill that would create or save 2 million jobs by investing in much-needed mass transit and bridge and road construction projects.
In early June, a bipartisan group of almost 150 mayors from around the country asked Congress to reauthorize the transportation bill, stating, " each day that passes by without reauthorization only deepens the depth of uncertainty in infrastructure financing, forcing state and local governments across the country to postpone the construction of needed projects with adverse job consequences."
"Democrats and Republicans all use the same roads, bridges and highways. Businesses need a solid and safe infrastructure to get products where they need to be. Killing jobs at a time when the economy is making a slow, but sure, rebound is unfathomable," said Congressman Cleaver. "It just doesn't make any sense."
We can no longer kick the can down the road. Billions of dollars and millions of jobs are on the line.
FACTS ABOUT THE TRANSPORTATION BILL:
Create or save 2 million jobs.
Rebuild our infrastructure across the country.
Support the hard-hit construction industry.
50% of our nation's roads are in disrepair
70,000 bridges are structurally deficient
overall unemployment is at a chilling 8.2%
construction industry unemployment is much worse at 14.2%