By: Matt Cartwright, Democratic Candidate for Congress, PA-17
With depressed monthly job numbers released last week, showing only about 69,000 jobs created in May, many elected officials have gone on the defensive and expressed concern. I have a suggestion: pass the bi-partisan Senate transportation bill.
Our nation's unemployment rate currently lingers above 8 percent. But it's even worse for the construction industry, with a jobless rate that currently exceeds 14 percent. Passing a bill that funds infrastructure projects across our Nation will directly employ workers to build and repair roads, bridges, railways, runways and ports. At the height of the construction season in America, with communities everywhere in need of infrastructure improvements, numerous projects large and small are stalled for lack of funding. All Congress has to do to add nearly 1 million American jobs? Pass the transportation bill.
At the same time House Republicans are criticizing a lack of jobs, they are holding the largest job-creating bill hostage. Republicans in the Senate, the Democrats in the Senate, the President of the United States, and the House Democrats all support this bipartisan bill. This is all eerily similar to the irresponsible debt limit debate of last summer, which resulted in Standard & Poor's credit rating agency downgrading the long-term credit rating of the United States government for the first time in its history, from AAA to AA+.
In February, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly (75 Senators voted yes) passed bi-partisan legislation – "Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century"(MAP-21) – that calls for $109 billion over two years for the nation's transportation infrastructure needs. This legislation will continue to support an additional 1.9 million American jobs, while supporting or creating 73,700 in Pennsylvania. However, the House of Representatives has failed to pass this immensely important transportation bill.
As a House-Senate conference committee has been trying to reach agreement on a bill to take effect after the June 30th extension ends, the negotiations are getting bogged down unnecessarily. That's because rather than serving the American people by passing the bi-partisan Senate bill, Republican House lawmakers want to force controversial concessions.
At a time when our nation's infrastructure is literally deteriorating, our economy is sluggishly moving along and Americans need work, we need leadership. We need a leader who will fight to bring jobs home, right here, in Northeastern Pennsylvania.