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Republicans use highway bill to counter Obama on infrastructure

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"Republicans recognize the importance of our nation’s infrastructure," they continued. "We know a strong transportation network is needed to accommodate economic growth. Specifically, we believe that Congress should pass a multiyear reauthorization of the federal surface transportation programs.”

The House Transportation Committee has suggested a six-year, roughly $285 billion bill, while the Senate has put forth a proposal for a two-year, $109 billion bill that would spend more per year on road projects. Advocates generally prefer the length of the House bill, but the higher per year spending totals of the Senate proposal.

The Senate on Thursday voted down the measure with the infrastructure portions of the jobs bill, which contained Obama's proposals for spending $50 billion in transportation spending and $10 billion to start up a national infrastructure bank.

Democratic Party Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (Fla.) called the vote "shockingly irresponsible."

"Tens of thousands of bridges in this country that are structurally deficient, that badly need repair, that will cost us more down the road if we let them continue to deteriorate … and with their repair, we could put hundred of thousands of construction workers back to work," the congresswoman said in an interview Thursday afternoon on MSNBC.  

Obama agreed, saying the Senate vote "makes no sense."

"For the third time in recent weeks, every single Republican in the United States Senate has chosen to obstruct a jobs bill that independent economists said would boost our economy and put Americans back to work," he said in a statement released by the White House. "At a time when more than a million construction workers are looking for a job, they voted “no” to putting them back to work doing the work America needs done – rebuilding  our roads, bridges, airports and transit systems.

"It’s more clear than ever that Republicans in Washington are out of touch with Americans from all ends of the political spectrum," Obama said.