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Obama: ‘Common sense’ for House to pass Senate transportation bill

President Obama used his weekly address to press House Republicans to accept the transportation funding bill that has been approved in the Senate on a bipartisan vote.

The current legislation that authorizes funding for road and public transit programs is set to expire on March 31. The House has said it will not vote on the Senate’s two-year, $109 billion version of the transportation measure, but the lower chamber has said it will attempt to pass a three-month extension of the current legislation, which expired in 2009.

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In his weekly address, Obama cast blame for the gridlock on transportation funding on House Republicans.

“Once again, we’re waiting on Congress,” he said of the highway bill’s renewal. “In a matter of days, funding will stop for all sorts of transportation projects. Construction sites will go idle. Workers will have to go home. And our economy will take a hit.

“This Congress cannot let that happen,” Obama continued. “The Senate did their part. They passed a bipartisan transportation bill. It had the support of 52 Democrats and 22 Republicans. Now it’s up to the House to follow suit; to put aside partisan posturing, end the gridlock, and do what’s right for the American people.”

Obama said extending the transportation bill before it expires next weekend was “common sense."

“Right now, all across this country, we’ve got contractors and construction workers who have never been more eager to get back on the job,” he said. “A long term transportation bill would put them to work, and those are good jobs.”

Obama used the remainder of his address to again tout his administration’s energy record, saying it was “producing more oil than at any other time in the last eight years."

“You wouldn’t know it by listening to some of the folks running for office today, but producing more oil at home has been, and will continue to be, a key part of my energy strategy,” he said. “We’ve quadrupled the number of operating oil rigs to a record high.  And we’ve added enough oil and gas pipeline to circle the entire Earth and then some. Those are the facts."

Obama added the caveat however that “as I’ve been saying all week, even though America uses around 20 percent of the world’s oil, we only have around 2 percent of the world’s known oil reserves. So even if we drilled everywhere, we’d still be relying on other countries for oil.”

Obama did not mention in his weekly address the anniversary of the controversial healthcare reform law, which he signed into law two years ago. But Republicans used their weekly address to needle Obama on the anniversary.

“The president was certainly right to join a call for health care reform. But the giant bill that he and others rammed through Congress has made things worse,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell  (R-Ky.) said.