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Obama urges U.S. Congress to pass transportation bill

(Xinhua)

12:35, September 04, 2011

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday urged Congress to pass a transportation bill that will save one million construction workers from unemployment, warning that failure to do so would have disastrous impact on the fragile economy.

The extension of the transportation bill, which the U.S. Congress has approved for seven times over the last two years, is no-brainer, but the "political posturing" may hinder its passage this year, Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address.

Due to political infighting in Congress, the bickering on raising the country's debt ceiling between the Democratic and Republican parties went so far in late July that it almost led to the first U.S. default on its debts.

Obama warned that if Congress fails to pass the transportation bill by the end of this month, it would be "a disaster" for the U. S. economy, which is struggling to sustain a fragile recovery.

If the bill is not extended before Sept. 30, the funding for the country's roads and bridges will expire and put a stop to highway construction, bridge repair, mass transit systems and other important projects. And one billion U.S. dollars in highway funding will be lost after the first 10 days alone, while almost one million workers could lose their jobs over the next year, Obama said.

"There's no reason to put more jobs at risk in an industry that has been one of the hardest-hit in this recession. 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," Obama added.

"This isn't a Democratic or a Republican issue - it's an American issue," said Obama, who will make a major jobs speech to the joint session of Congress Thursday, a day later than his previous announcement after making a rare compromise to Republican House Speaker John Boehner.

Obama, with an eye on next year's re-election campaign, has been focusing his attention on creating jobs at a time when the unemployment rate remains at 9.1 percent.

The latest data released on Friday showed that job growth came to a halt last month, which increases pressure on Obama administration to find new tools to save an economic recovery which is in danger of sputtering out.

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