Biden doubles down on LaGuardia criticism

Biden doubles down on LaGuardia criticism
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Vice President Biden doubled down on his criticism of New York's LaGuardia Airport on Wednesday during a pitch for Congress to approve a new round of transportation funding.

Biden drew the ire of New York City officials for referring to the airport as a "third world" facility in February during a speech calling for increased federal transportation funding.

He stood by the remarks on Wednesday in a speech to business leaders about the current debate on infrastructure funding in Congress, despite acknowledging that his previous comments had "raised some hackles."

"If you were blindfolded and I dropped you in an airport in the middle of New York and I dropped you in an airport in the middle of Beijing, you sure as hell wouldn't pick LaGuardia as being in the United States," Biden said.

"The greatest city in the world with the airport structure it has now?" Biden continued. "C'mon guys. How long can that last? How long can we continue to be in that position?"

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) had criticized Biden for the initial swipe at LaGuardia.

“I respect the vice president, but I think his comments were inappropriate,” the mayor said during a February press conference. “As a proud New Yorker, I didn’t like that comment, and I think it was not the right way to talk about it."

Biden was pushing Wednesday for lawmakers to approve legislation to prevent a bankruptcy in federal transportation funding that has been projected to occur in August without congressional action.

The money in question is for road and transit projects, so it would not go specifically to airport improvements. However, Biden said Wednesday the costs of inaction during a peak summer construction season would be devastating.

"If Congress doesn't act by September on the Highway Trust Fund, states are going to have to defer, delay or halt 112,000 highway projects, 5,600 transit projects, putting at risk 700,000 jobs," Biden said. "Good paying jobs. Jobs you can raise a middle class family on. Jobs you can live a middle class life with. That's why the president has proposed the so-called Rebuild America Act."

The transportation department has said that it will begin cutting back on payments to state and local governments on Aug. 1 unless Congress reaches a deal on an infrastructure funding extension.

The Obama administration has suggested that lawmakers approve a four-year, $302 billion transportation funding bill.

However, lawmakers are currently debating approving a temporary stopgap measure that would only extend transportation funding until the end of the year or else until next spring

-This story was updated at 5:14 p.m.