by Keith Laing, The Hill Newspaper
The Republican chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said Thursday evening that he is opposed to the call for a national infrastructure bank President Obama made in his speech to a joint session of Congress.
Rep. John Mica (Fla.) said he thought Congress should encourage individual states to create their own infrastructure banks, arguing as he has in the past that it would give them more flexibility to design transportation projects that fit their own needs.
“While the President reconfirmed that our highways are clogged and our skies are congested, his well delivered address provided only one specific recommendation for building our nation’s infrastructure,” Mica said in a news release. “Unfortunately, a National Infrastructure Bank run by Washington bureaucrats requiring Washington approval and Washington red tape is moving in the wrong direction. A better plan to improve infrastructure is to empower our states, 33 of which already have state infrastructure banks.”
Obama called Thursday for Congress to approve a proposal for a federal infrastructure bank that has been pushed for by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas).
“We’ll set up an independent fund to attract private dollars and issue loans based on two criteria: how badly a construction project is needed and how much good it would do for the economy,” Obama said.
“This idea came from a bill written by a Texas Republican and a Massachusetts Democrat. The idea for a big boost in construction is supported by America’s largest business organization and America’s largest labor organization. It’s the kind of proposal that’s been supported in the past by Democrats and Republicans alike. You should pass it right away.”
Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), ranking member on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, called for Republicans on the panel to be receptive to Obama’s proposals.
“The Nation’s roads and bridges and water systems are needs that even Americans of vastly different political leanings agree deserve greater Federal investment — not less,” Rahall said in a news release. “After all, the jobs created by such investment are not Republican jobs or Democratic jobs — they are American jobs.”
The infrastructure bank proposal was part of a $447 billion package Obama introduced Thursday — the American Jobs Act.
In his speech, Obama pledged to campaign across the country for Congress to approve his proposals.