Obama renews call for national infrastructure bank

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, April 1, 2013 - President Obama reiterated his call Friday to create a national infrastructure bank that would aim to provide increased funds to upgrade and rebuild the nation's crumbling roads, bridges, and ports.

Building off the 2013 State of the Union address, Obama pushed his Partnership to Rebuild America plan, which would create an independent fund to leverage private and public capital for infrastructure projects.

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Speaking in Miami, the president stressed the importance of improving the nation's ports and increasing U.S. agricultural exports.

“Are you going to set up shop in a country that's got raggedy roads, runways that are pot-holed, and backed-up supply chains?” Obama said. “Or are you going to seek out high-speed rail, Internet, high-tech schools, new state-of-the-art power grids, new bridges, new tunnels, new ports that help you ship products made in America to the rest of the world as fast as possible?”

Obama has called for an investment of $10 billion into a National Infrastructure Bank, with each dollar of federal funding leveraging up to $20 in total infrastructure investment.

During his speech, Obama cited a recent “report card” on the nation's infrastructure, offered by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) that gave the inland waterways system a “D-” grade.

“We still have all kinds of deferred maintenance,” Obama said. “We still have too many ports that aren't equipped for today's world commerce. We've still got too many rail lines that are too slow and clogged up. We've still got too many roads that are in disrepair, too many bridges that aren't safe.”

Obama said his plan would create an independent fund that would attract private investments in infrastructure through a bond and loan program.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., applauded Obama's renewed push to improve the infrastructure.

“With America's $3.6 trillion infrastructure investment deficit, it is well past time that we focus on creating jobs and growing the economy through investments in our critical infrastructure,” DeLauro said. “Rebuilding our roads, bridges, ports and other infrastructure creates thousands of jobs that cannot be outsourced. These are exactly the kind of steps we should be taking to put our economy back on solid footing.”

Recently introduced legislation (S. 601) would authorize funding to modernize the nation's locks and dams, assist with flood protection and restore key environmental areas has moved out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

The Water Resources Development Act aims to promote investment in the nation's critical water resources infrastructure, accelerate project delivery, and reform the implementation of Corps of Engineers projects. Supporters say the bill would create up to 500,000 new jobs.


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