Sen. Coburn Threatens To Block Bipartisan Transportation Funding Backed By Labor And Chamber Of Commerce

September 01, 2011 11:12 am ET — Jamison Foser

Sen. Tom Coburn

With the support of both labor and the Chamber of Commerce, President Obama wants to extend legislation that funds highways and mass-transit and, in the process, puts people to work:

President Barack Obama urged lawmakers to extend legislation to fund highways and mass- transit projects, saying a failure to do so will cost thousands of construction jobs and delay needed infrastructure repairs.

"It's inexcusable to put more jobs at risk in an industry that's already been one of the hardest hit in the last decade," Obama said at the White House today. [...]

To illustrate what he said was broad support for action on legislation, Obama was joined for his remarks in the Rose Garden by David Chavern, chief operating officer for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. In a separate speech in Washington today, Chamber President Thomas Donohue endorsed spending on highway construction to create jobs. [...]

Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said Obama's remarks were "transparently political" and a "scare tactic" because Republicans aren't threatening to let the surface transportation legislation expire.

"Republicans support an extension of the highway bill and appreciate the need for a long-term solution for infrastructure projects," Buck said in a statement.

So, extending the highway bill will help keep people working, improve the nation's infrastructure, and has the support of the president, the Speaker of the House, the president of the AFL-CIO, and the Chamber of Commerce. What's the problem, then? Oh, right: Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK):

A spokesman for Senator Tom Coburn said yesterday that the Oklahoma Republican will attempt to block an extension of legislation if requirements to pay for bicycle paths and road beautification projects aren't removed.

Of course he will

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