WASHINGTON - With time running out, the White House was preparing to press Congress this week to keep money flowing into a federal fund for road and bridge repairs, warning of economic harm, lost aid to states, and idled construction workers unless lawmakers act.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has said the federal Highway Trust Fund is expected run dry by late August. Without congressional action, transportation aid to states will be delayed and workers will be laid off at construction sites nationwide, Foxx said.
To that end, the White House will spend this week highlighting the issue and pressing for action. In contrast to President Obama's 2014 goal to act without Congress wherever he can, the highway funding issue is not one he can solve on his own.
On Wednesday, Obama is scheduled to speak in front of the Tappan Zee Bridge, a nearly 60-year-old span across the Hudson River north of New York, to press for action. He will also highlight steps the administration has taken to cut red tape, modernize the federal permitting process, and reduce the timelines for approving projects, said Matt Lehrich, an assistant White House press secretary.
On Friday, the president plans to discuss infrastructure with workers in the Washington area.
Vice President Biden will also be involved. On Tuesday, he is to tour a project in St. Louis where a pedestrian bridge is being built over Interstate 70 to make it easier and safer for people to get to the Gateway Arch. Then on Wednesday, he heads to Cleveland, where an obsolete transit station is being replaced with a more energy-efficient building.
The White House plans to open the week by releasing an analysis Monday on the need to pay for these types of repairs and upgrades.
Senior administration officials will also be sent out to help sound the alarm.
Last month, the Obama administration sent Congress a four-year, $302 billion transportation plan. A highlight includes pumping about $150 billion into transportation programs beyond the money raised through fuel taxes. The additional spending would be paid for by changes to business taxes, including closing corporate loopholes.