WASHINGTON, June 25 (UPI) -- All U.S. states and territories have obligated half of the economic stimulus funds targeted to transportation projects, Vice President Joe Biden said.
To date, $19 billion of funds in the $789 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has been obligated to fund more than 5,300 highway and other transportation projects already approved nationwide, Biden and Transportation Ray LaHood said in a news release. Of those, 1,900 projects are already underway.
"Our No. 1 priority with the Recovery Act is getting folks back to work," Biden said. "And there is no better way to do that in these early days than by putting shovels in the ground and jump-starting projects ... that create jobs and boost local communities."
Biden and LaHood noted states were required by law to commit 50 percent of their highway funds by Monday. However, they said, all 55 U.S. states and territories beat the deadline by at least 10 days.
"By delivering on these projects ahead of schedule and under budget, we have been able to do even more than we expected," Biden said.
The House Transportation Committee's top Republican, however, said stimulus funding is trickling out to the states slowly because of excessive federal regulation, USA Today reported Thursday.
So far, states received about $132 million of the stimulus package's $27.5 billion in road construction funding, Transportation Department figures indicate. As of May 31, the 13 states with double-digit unemployment rates received about $22 million in highway money.
"There should be no reason why, with the economy in dire straits, that we can't get the money out there," Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., told USA Today. "It's tied up in red tape."