U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx came to Tampa in late May to promote a new transportation bill to keep money flowing to road and transit projects. More than six weeks later, Congress still has failed to act and federal transportation money will start running out in August. It's up to President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans to prevent that from happening and avoid putting thousands of construction jobs at risk.
Obama urged Congress again last week to agree on a new transportation bill, but the administration and Republican lawmakers remain far apart. There is bipartisan support for spending on infrastructure, of course, particularly in an election year. But the sticking point remains paying for it.
The president's $302 billion proposal is imperfect and not a robust, long-term plan for investing in transportation. It relies on one-time money and closing unspecified corporate tax loopholes. A Senate committee has approved a bill that would keep transit spending at current levels for six years, and a key House Republican has unveiled a modest proposal that includes unnecessary tax cuts.
With hopes fading for a vigorous long-term transportation package and no appetite for raising gas taxes, the least the president and Congress can do is avoid a stalemate that puts workers and road projects in jeopardy.