WASHINGTON, July 17 (UPI) -- President Obama chided Congress Thursday for waiting until the last moment to pass crucial funding for transportation projects and announced a new initiative to put more of those projects in the hands of private partners.
Obama applauded the imminent passage of an $11 billion patch for the Highway Trust Fund that will keep the program from running out of money in August and support more than 100,000 transportation projects around the country.
The House overwhelmingly voted to pass the measure on Tuesday, and the Senate expected to take up the House bill next week. But the patch will only last through next May, and then the partisan battles will begin again.
In his speech in Wilmington, Del., Thursday, Obama announced the Build America Investment Initiative, which will partner cities and states with private sector companies willing to back infrastructure investment.
"Lots of states and local governments would welcome more private investment, but they need a partner in the federal government to help do some matchmaking and work through some of the complexities of private financing of infrastructure," he said. "My administration is going to help states and cities apply for federal loans, get more public-private partnerships up and running, get more investment flowing into communities like Wilmington."
Thursday's event is the latest in Obama's push to get Congress to pass his $302 billion, 4-year transportation plan or come up with one of their own.
"A few months of funding doesn't cut it," he said.