Obama makes pitch for highway funding bill

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President Obama used the signing ceremony for a new waterways infrastructure bill to push Congress to strike similar bipartisan compromises on other priorities, including a highway funding deal.

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Obama on Tuesday said the waterways bill "hopefully sets a pattern for additional work we can do on our transportation infrastructure." He warned that more than 100,000 transportation projects could be stalled if lawmakers can't agree on a plan to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent past this summer.

"Right now, we should be putting a lot more Americans back to work improving our infrastructure," Obama said.

"World-class infrastructure is one of the reasons America a became a global superpower in the first place… this should be really a high priority," he added.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) shot back in a statement, hailing the waterways bill as "a good example of what can happen when Washington Democrats decide to work together with Republicans."

"Everyone agrees there is too much gridlock in this town but that makes it even more important to recognize when something real does get done – and why and how. This bill was passed by elected representatives who found common ground," Boehner continued.

"The process can work, but it requires exactly the opposite approach from what the President did yesterday on student loans,” he added. “Hectoring, lecturing, and eviscerating rhetorical straw men doesn’t get results – hard work does.”

The $12.3 billion waterways bill will fund 34 infrastructure projects across the country, including at ports in Boston and Charleston, S.C. Congressional negotiators spent nearly six months working out funding disagreements in the first new water infrastructure bill to pass since 2007.

Obama said the legislation would help prepare for larger supertanker ships that will be able to pass through the Panama Canal, which is currently being deepened.

"We've got to make sure we've got bridges high enough and ports that are big enough they can accommodate them," the president said.

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