WASHINGTON, DC (August 31, 2011) -- Warning of potentially a million lost jobs, President Barack Obama urged Congress on Wednesday to pass bills to fund highways and air travel. Key House Republicans said they're willing to do just that, but stopped short of promising not to attach contentious items to the measures.
For construction workers and their families across the country, passage of the bills "represents the difference between making ends meet or not making ends meet," Obama said during a speech in the Rose Garden.
The federal highway construction program expires Sept. 30. So does the 18.4-cents-per-gallon federal gasoline tax and the 24.4-cents-per-gallon diesel tax that pay for much of the program.
The president said 4,000 workers would be immediately furloughed without pay if the program isn't extended, and a significant delay could lead to 1 million workers losing their jobs over the next year.
"All of them will be out of a job just because of politics in Washington," Obama said. "That's just not acceptable."