ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf reports:
Republicans on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee stood beside a large, orange “Road Work Ahead” sign draped with reflective road worker vests today to complain that the stimulus hasn’t worked in creating the jobs it was supposed to.
And they called on the Obama administration to work to address the $20 billion shortfall that threatens payments for non-stimulus road and infrastructure projects paid for through the highway trust fund.
“There's a new definition for dismal failure. Stimulus. This stimulus,” said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, whose home state of Florida suffers from high unemployment.
The Congress people all suffer from high unemployment in their states and pointed to a GAO report released this week that shows many of the areas with the highest unemployment are receiving proportionally less stimulus money. In large part, this is due to the formula by which the funds have been dispersed.
“It’s absolutely shocking that after five months later continue to be mired in red tape. it takes far too long to get projects under way,” said Rep. John Mica, R-FL, who is the ranking Republican on the Transportation Committee.
“Michigan, with the highest unemployment in the nation, is 45th in the nation in our receipt of transportation dollars,” said Rep. Candace Miller, who said her district has the highest unemployment in the nation.
She said the Obama administration and Congress should change the rules for stimulus-funded projects to cut through red tape. They pointed to the quick response to the bridge collapse in Minneapolis, which took 437 days to rebuild, although Congress passed a special bill to authorize its contribution to that project.
“Cutting through all of this, we would have so many shovel ready programs,” said Miller of red tape that she said is snarling projects. “we would be really turning the dirt right now.”
They also faulted the Obama administration for its plan to ask Congress to authorize the borrowing of $20 billion to replenish the Department of Transportation’s highway trust fund, which faces a funding shortfall.