By Keith Laing
He chided Republicans for blocking his prior proposal to increase spending on transportation projects, and noted that that his administration "acted without Congress" to speed up permitting for dredging at Jacksonville port.
The Jacksonville port was one of five ports on the East Coast of the United States that were identified by the Obama administration last year for expedited expansion.
The other projects were in Miami, Fla.; Savannah, Ga.;
Charleston, S.C.; New York and New Jersey. Each of them had long been sought by
transportation officials in those states.
Republicans argue that transportation officials in the Obama administration have taken too long to clear the projects for completion, despite Obama's pronouncements about them.
However, Obama said on Thursday that his administration was working hard to quickly to deepening the Jacksonville port and other shipping facilities on the East Coast. He said doing so would allow the ports to accept shipments on new supertankers, which can hold three times the cargo of ordinary ships.
Obama said the larger container ships would soon be streaming through the Panama Canal, which is being currently being widened
"We want those supertankers coming here to Jacksonville," Obama said on Thursday afternoon.
"If we've got more supertankers coming here, that means more jobs at the terminals," Obama continued. "That means more warehouses in the surrounding areas."
Republicans on the House Transportation Committee were not impressed.
Shuster touted his own party's efforts to boost development of ports and waterways.
“One of my top priorities is moving forward with Water Resources Reform and Development legislation to accelerate project delivery, streamline environmental reviews, and reform the Army Corps of Engineers bureaucracy," he said.
"It is also essential that these reforms apply to all water infrastructure projects, not just a select handful. We need fiscally responsible solutions that cut red tape and improve our essential infrastructure," Shuster continued. "Our transportation systems are critical to the economic success of American businesses and job creators, and their effectiveness has a tremendous impact on our competitiveness and our quality of life. I hope the president will support these important efforts.”
- Justin Sink contributed to this report.
-This post was updated with new information at 8:14 p.m.