By Walter Alarkon - 09/07/10 05:36 PM EDT
"I don't know what planet these people have been living on for the last 18 months," said Mica (Fla.). "They hijacked the $862 billion so-called stimulus, leaving less than 7 percent in the bill for infrastructure, and they failed to ensure that even this small percentage of funds would be spent expeditiously."
Mica recently backed a long-term transportation bill, crafting a bipartisan, $500 billion, six-year surface transportation measure last year with House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.). But that measure has stalled because lawmakers haven't found a way to pay for it.
The president Monday called for $50 billion for the first year of his six-year plan. Administration officials have said the entire program would be paid for, partly through closing tax breaks for energy companies and large corporations, but the officials didn't give a total cost estimate.
Mica said in his statement Tuesday that the administration has undermined Oberstar and their bill. The Republican called on the administration to focus more on making sure that money in the stimulus for transportation projects is put to use quickly.
"While proposing to spend more on infrastructure in another stimulus effort may sound like the administration is doing something about jobs, in fact only 32 percent of the infrastructure funding approved 18 months ago in the first stimulus has been spent," Mica said. "Projects continue to be bogged down by bureaucracy and red tape."
Oberstar said Tuesday that he's "very pleased" with Obama's proposal.
"The principles outlined by the president are consistent with those put forward by the committee in the Blueprint for Investment and Reform and the Surface Transportation Authorization Act," Oberstar said. "I applaud the goals of this initiative and look forward to working with President Obama and [Transportation Secretary Ray] LaHood in further developing this proposal and moving it through Congress."
Oberstar last year was critical of the White House economic team for not focusing enough on infrastructure projects to boost the economy.