Obama to highlight 'urgent' bridge repair in Boehner’s home state

President Obama will promote his jobs bill at a bridge important to House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) district next week, the White House announced Thursday.

The White House said that Obama would visit the Brent Spence Bridge in Ohio on Sept. 22 in order to highlight the “urgent need” for infrastructure improvements, one of the ideas included in his bill.

ADVERTISEMENT
Although the bridge is located very near Boehner’s district, Obama has not spoken to the Speaker since he gave his speech introducing the bill to a joint session of Congress last week, and White House press secretary Jay Carney did not know Thursday whether Boehner had been notified.

Carney said the bridge was chosen because it is “relatively easy to get to from Washington.”

The 48-year-old bridge, which spans the Ohio River between Ohio and Kentucky, has been under review by transportation officials in the two states for massive repair or replacement. The double-decker inter-state bridge has been described as “functionally obsolete.”

Obama also used the bridge as an example of necessary infrastructure repair in his jobs speech to Congress, prompting both Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to respond that while the bridge is an important priority for their constituents, they would not support funding repairs through earmarks or another stimulus.

Obama’s trip to this particular bridge will likely serve to put additional pressure on the GOP leaders. According to Carney, the choice is a result of Obama’s focus on jobs, not politics.

“It’s not a coincidence in that the bridge is one we can get to and highlight from the White House on a day trip that absolutely illustrates the problems that we have with infrastructure in this country,” he said in Thursday’s press briefing.

Obama’s campaign to pass his jobs bill has included a strong push for mending bridges. In North Carolina on Wednesday, Obama said his bill needed to be passed before any state faced another tragic bridge collapse. “Why would we wait to act until another bridge falls?” he asked.

Obama promised the bill would provide 19,000 construction jobs that would improve public safety. It is his second trip to Ohio within a two-week span. He was in Columbus on Tuesday to promote his jobs bill.