President Barack Obama used his weekly radio and Internet address on Saturday to urge Congress to pass a transportation bill that provides funding for roads and construction jobs.
"There's no reason to put more jobs at risk in an industry that has been one of the hardest-hit in this recession," Obama said, according to the Associated Press. "There's no reason to cut off funding for transportation projects at a time when so many of our roads are congested, so many of our bridges are in need of repair and so many businesses are feeling the cost of delays."
"This isn't a Democratic or a Republican issue — it's an American issue," he said
According to the AP, federal highway programs and the fuel taxes that pay for them will expire September 30 unless Congress acts. Money for construction projects around the country would also be held up. Experts say the consequences of not extending the programs would be devastating.
In his address, Obama warned that thousands of jobs were at stake, Politico reports.
“Right away, over 4,000 workers would be furloughed without pay,” he said. “If it’s delayed for just 10 days, we will lose nearly $1 billion in highway funding that we can never get back. And if we wait even longer, almost 1 million workers could be in danger of losing their jobs over the next year.
The president also noted that Congress has renewed the same bill seven times in the last two years.
“But thanks to political posturing in Washington, they haven’t been able to extend it this time – and the clock is running out,” he said.
Obama's address came one day after a U.S. Labor Department report showed the economy added no net new jobs in August, with the unemployment rate staying at 9.1 percent. Obama is scheduled to give a speech on jobs and the economy before a joint session of Congress on Thursday.