In his remarks to lawmakers Tuesday night, Obama suggested a different course.
“Take the money we're no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building right here at home,” Obama said in the State of Union, his third since taking office.
Lawmakers have debated a renewal of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users, which expired in 2009, for the better part of two years. While they debated, members of the House and Senate approved eight short-term extensions of the last highway bill, including the most recent extension, which passed last fall and is set to expire March 31.
The Democratically-controlled Senate has suggested it would move forward with a two-year, $109 billion surface transportation bill.
Both proposals are far less than the six-year, $556 billion the president called for spending on transportation last year.
—Kevin Bogardus contributed to this report.