Federal highway bill set to expire, Obama urges extension

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Warning of dire consequences for the nation's workers, President Barack Obama on Wednesday urged Congress to extend bills to fund highways and air travel that he said would protect a million jobs.

(Photo: Heather Farrell)

"For construction workers and their families across the country, it represents the difference between making ends meet or not making ends meet," Obama said during a speech in the Rose Garden.

The federal highway spending bill at issue expires Sept. 30. A Senate proposal would last only two years and cost $109 billion, while the House is considering a longer, six-year bill that could cut spending from current levels.

The president said 4,000 workers would be immediately furloughed without pay if the bill is not extended, and a significant delay could lead to 1 million workers losing their job 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. It's inexcusable."

Obama also called on lawmakers to pass a clean extension of a bill to fund the Federal Aviation Administration before it expires in mid-September. The FAA was already partially shut down for two weeks this summer, because lawmakers couldn't agree to an extension in time.

While Congress ultimately reached an agreement, tens of thousands of workers and the government about $30 million a day

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