WASHINGTON, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama Wednesday called for a $50 billion investment in U.S. infrastructure to create jobs and keep the country competitive.
With most of the focus in Washington on the half a trillion dollars in across-the-board spending cuts scheduled to become law on March 1, the White House said in a statement that the president is proposing a "fix-it-first" policy in which existing roads, bridges and airports would be repaired before new projects are developed.
"Repairs and maintenance of our existing roads, bridges and public transportation systems should take priority before we consider investing in new facilities," the statement said.
The proposal includes investing $40 billion in "the most urgent upgrades."
Funding would also be enhanced by tapping into state, city and local government budgets and private capital.
The White House said 70,000 bridges in the country have been labeled "structurally deficient." The spending plan would turn that around as the first $40 billion spent would "bring almost 80 percent of structurally deficient bridges up to date, getting Americans home faster and making the flow of commerce speedier," the statement said.
The president has made repeated proposals for more spending on infrastructure, but deficit-wary Republicans in Congress have consistently opposed the idea.