Obama to Congress: Pass Transportation Bill

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President Barack Obama was back on the stump pushing his American Jobs Act, Wednesday.

Congress has broken up his plan into separate pieces of legislation.

This week, the president pushed the transportation piece of his bill that he says would put hundreds of thousands of construction workers back to work.

However, some still aren't convinced the plan isn't another stimulus the government can't afford.

There's no question that America's construction industry suffered one of the most painful blows of the economic downturn.

More than a million workers are without jobs.

"We have members who have been out of work for over a year, some of them longer than that," said Jeff Guido of the Maryland Pipe Trades Association.

How to get the industry moving again is the question.

"We'll get through it together as long as the government helps us out a little bit," said Michael Alexander, a plumber.

Alexander was one of dozens of construction workers who gathered at the base of Washington D.C.'s aging Key Bridge, Wednesday.

The bridge was the backdrop of the president's latest attempt to convince Congress to pass his jobs act.

"They hold the purse strings. It's the only way we're going to put hundreds of thousands of people back to work right now. Not five years from now, not ten years from now, but right now," Obama said.

Repairs on the Key Bridge are scheduled for 2015. Under the president's jobs act, those repairs could begin as soon as 2013. But that's still at least a year before workers get started on the project.

The White House released a report highlighting other initiatives in more than 20 states that would improve the flow of goods and services.

And in an effort to cut the red tape surrounding those projects, the administration is directing the Department of Transportation to:

  • Award grants by the end of 2011
  • Shorten THE 2012 funding application process
  • Establish Transportation Rapid Response Team

"I've said that I'll do everything in my power to act on behalf of the American people with or without Congress," the president said.

"Our problem with what the president is doing is that it's 90 percent PR stunt and 10 percent questionable in terms of his authority to even do it," said Bill Wilson, head of the group Americans for Limited Government.

The White House says it's compensating for a "do-nothing" Congress.

The president criticized members for considering legislation that's not about jobs, including this week's vote to reaffirm "In God We Trust" as the national motto.

"That's not putting people back to work. I trust in God, but God wants to see us help ourselves by putting people back to work," Obama said.

"The president says America can't wait, what do you say to that?" CBN News asked Wilson.

"What we've been waiting on for two years is for him to admit that those policies have not worked. Let's try something else," he replied. "And instead what we've gotten is just the same old policies wrapped up in a new PR wrapper and that's been his answer."

As the clock ticks closer to the 2012 presidential election - it's likely there will be less room for compromise on any economic solution.

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Jennifer Wishon

CBN News White House Correspondent

Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.