President, Speaker Talk Transportation After Senate Blocks Jobs Bill

AASHTO Journal, 14 October 2011

Two days after the Senate voted against proceeding to a debate on President Barack Obama’s $447 billion American Jobs Act, the president and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, discussed transportation and infrastructure during a phone call Thursday.”The speaker expressed his desire to do something on the issue, but to do it in a fiscally responsible way,” according to a statement from Boehner’s office.

Obama received 50 senators’ votes Tuesday in favor of proceeding to debate the American Jobs Act, short of the 60 needed; 49 senators, including all Republicans, voted to block the measure from advancing. The legislation, S 1660, would appropriate $50 billion for transportation projects and $10 billion to capitalize a national infrastructure bank. (see Sept. 16 AASHTO Journal story)

The president said in a statement released after Tuesday’s vote that he will work with congressional leaders to break the jobs package into smaller pieces to try to garner enough votes to pass some components.

“Because with so many Americans out of work and so many families struggling, we can’t take ‘no’ for an answer,” Obama said. “Ultimately, the American people won’t take ‘no’ for an answer. It’s time for Congress to meet their responsibility, put their party politics aside, and take action on jobs right now.”

In remarks to reporters Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said he will try to move forward pieces of the American Jobs Act that stand the best chance of gaining bipartisan support. Reid indicated the first vote on a smaller jobs bill could occur as early as next week, but Senate Democrats have yet to announce which part they might try to advance.

President’s Jobs Council Supports Aggressive Investments in Infrastructure

While debate about job creation continued in Washington this week, the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness met Tuesday in Pittsburgh. The council released a report urging the federal government to “invest aggressively and efficiently in cutting-edge infrastructure.”

The jobs council — comprised of 27 leaders from business, labor, and academia — issued recommendations that include:

  • Reauthorize the Main Surface Transportation Programs;
  • Focus on Performance and Accountability;
  • Leverage and Expand Existing Public-Private Financing Mechanisms to Increase Private Capital for Infrastructure Investment;
  • Create a New National Infrastructure Financing Organization that Complements Existing Programs and Attracts Private Capital to Infrastructure Projects;
  • Protect and Preserve the User-Based Funding of the Highway Trust Fund;
  • Speed Implementation of the Next Generation Air Traffic Control System;
  • Streamline Permitting and Approval Processes for Jobs-Rich Infrastructure Projects;
  • Streamline Regulations to Create Substantial Change and Targeted, Immediate Impact; and
  • Reform Permitting Processes to Accelerate Job Creation.

The President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness’s one-page summary of infrastructure recommendations is available at and its one-page summary of regulatory reform recommendations is available at The council’s full 52-page report to the president is available at

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