July 1, 2014 5:55 PM, EDT

Obama Calls on Congress to Address Highway Trust Fund Crisis

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
President Obama chided Congress on July 1 for not addressing the Highway Trust Fund crisis, saying that further inaction could close down highway projects and endanger tens of thousands of jobs.

“All told, nearly 700,000 jobs could be at risk next year,” Obama said during an appearance alongside the Frances Scott Key bridge in Georgetown, a neighborhood in Washington.

“That would be like Congress threatening to lay off the entire population of Denver or Seattle or Boston,” Obama said.

There are more than 100,000 “active” transportation construction projects in the country, and states will have to begin choosing which ones to close down if lawmakers do not come up with a funding solution, he said.

The trust fund is expected to be insolvent by August, and the transportation funding law, MAP-21, expires Sept. 30. Congress must extend the law or approve a new one, or the federal government cannot continue collecting fuel taxes and spending on highway projects.

Obama said the $302 billion transportation plan he proposed earlier this year would be a job creator and also address the nation’s need to invest in its deteriorating infrastructure.

He directed much of his fire at the House Republicans, saying their politics of obstruction was blocking his plan and hurting middle-class job growth.

“It’s not crazy,” he said of his plan, which would be paid for in part with corporate tax reforms.

“It’s not socialism,” he said. “It’s not the imperial presidency. No laws are broken. We’re just building roads and bridges like we’ve been doing for the last 50 [or] 100 years.”