Before a crowd of hard-hat-wearing union reps and construction workers, President Barack Obama called on congress to free up new money to repair bridges, pave roads and open new runways across the country.
Arguing that lawmakers are forcing businesses to use crumbling infrastructure while keeping cash out of workers' pockets, Obama used a bridge connecting Washington, D.C., to its Northern Virginia suburbs to buttress his plea.
"It makes absolutely no sense when there's so much work to be done that they're not doing the work," Obama said during a speech today at the foot of the Francis Scott Key bridge, which has been designated one of over 200 "structurally deficient" bridges in the national capitol region. "Not when there are so many roads and bridges and runways waiting to be repaired and waiting to be rebuilt."
The President emphasized how building projects answer two of America's most pressing needs: deficient roads, bridges, and highways and job creation.
"You're paying already, for these substandard bridges. You're paying for these substandard roads. You could be paying to make sure that workers were rebuilding these roads," he said, adding that shipping companies are charging consumers more to take diverted routes around unsound roads and bridges.
Obama has been pressing lawmakers to pass legislation creating a so-called National Infrastructure Bank that would dole out cash to worthy building projects. In a nationwide barnstorming tour, the president has been calling out top Republican lawmakers for dragging their feet on infrastructure spending.
"I can't imagine that Speaker Boehner wants to represent a state where one in four bridges is classified as substandard," Obama said.
That logic resonated with Chris Madello, who works as an organizer for Steamfitters Local 602.
"Putting people back to work is what's important," he said. "If you take money and put it into infrastructure, and you put money back in pockets of workers who have been out of work, then they're going to go shopping."