Last September, the U.S. Conference of Mayors released its Common-Sense Jobs Agenda, calling on Congress to take a few simple steps to help create American jobs. As Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said, “U.S. cities are where much of the nation’s job creation begins.”
Among other priorities, the nation's mayors said, "The time is now to invest in infrastructure jobs."
And this Administration agreed wholeheartedly. In fact, just a few days later, President Obama introduced the American Jobs Act to a joint session of Congress. Like the mayors, the President called for federal investments in infrastructure to create jobs and lay the foundation for greater economic competitiveness.
Well, today I spoke with the mayors who gathered in Washington, DC, for their 80th annual winter meeting, and their agenda--like that of this Administration--hasn't changed. We must put Americans back to work.
Fortunately, I was able to talk about the many strong job-creating steps we've been able to take without having to wait for Congress to act:
- Our TIGER discretionary grants, which we announced several months early so America's job-creators can put our friends and neighbors back to work;
- Our support for High Speed Rail corridors, including the millions of dollars in funding we committed in 2011 that has created jobs along those corridors and also among suppliers across the country from Arkansas to Arizona;
- And the regulatory reform we've undertaken to get government out of the way, where possible, so America's job creators can do what they do best.
But one critical piece of the puzzle still waits for congressional action: a long-term transportation jobs bill. And with Congress returning from its holiday break, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and I agree once again: the time for job-creating infrastructure investment is still now.
Two weeks from today, funding for the FAA will expire again.
Now is the time for Congress to pass long term bills that put people back to work rebuilding our roadways, railways, transit systems, and airports. Now is the time for Congress to unleash the American workforce to build the safest, fastest, most efficient ways to move people and products in the 21st century.
The nation's mayors get it. As Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said, “It’s time to break the gridlock in Washington, stop scoring political points and start scoring wins the American people need on jobs.”
The opportunity is clear: there is work to be done and American workers ready to roll up their sleeves in communities from Manchester, New Hampshire, to Mesa, Arizona. Now is the time to act.