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Obama Prods Congress to Finish Transportation Bill This Year

<p>President Obama talked up transportation projects as part of his post-State of the Union tour.</p>

SAINT PAUL, MINN. – President Barack Obama continued his “pen and phone” tour with a trip to Minnesota to highlight transportation investments he said held the key to middle class growth.

Obama, visiting the Twin Cities’ Union Depot, pushed a new, $302 billion transportation proposal that would funnel money from corporate tax reform to infrastructure projects, and he hammered Congress to complete work on transportation legislation this year.

"If Congress doesn't finish a transportation bill by the end of the summer, we could see construction projects stop in their tracks," he said. "Machines sitting idle, workers off the job."

While the current federal highway and transportation funding measure expires at the end of September, it may be difficult to win reauthorization before the midterm election in November.

Continuing with his post-State of the Union push on executive action, Obama also announced another round of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program.

Obama committed $600 million more to the infrastructure spending competition where state and local governments can apply for funding to tackle a variety of infrastructure projects like Union Depot, where he spoke today. The renovation of Union Depot into what the city hopes will be a multi-modal transportation hub was funded by a 2009 TIGER grant.

The president also took a moment to toast the achievements of his signature stimulus act, which celebrated its five-year anniversary this month. He said the stimulus "actually worked, despite what everybody says."