President Obama called for a “sense of patriotism” to overcome legislative deadlock on Thursday, as he criticized Republicans for rejecting his spending priorities and challenging his attempts to circumvent Congress with executive actions.
In remarks at the Port of Wilmington in Delaware, Obama mocked House Republicans for their lawsuit claiming he has overstepped his constitutional authority by making unilateral changes to his healthcare law and other measures.
“They're suing me for doing my job instead of going ahead and doing their job,” Obama said. “It's a political stunt.”
Obama made the comments standing in front of the I-495 bridge in Delaware, a hulking structure that carried 90,000 cars per day before it was recently closed for repairs. The president pointed to the bridge work, which is partially funded by a federal grant, as an example of the progress that comes when Democrats and Republicans back infrastructure investment.
“We could do so much more if we rally around a sense of patriotism that says we can disagree on issues once in a while, but come on, let's focus on our country, let's focus on our people, a sense of common purpose,” Obama said. “That's how we built this country together, and that's what Washington has to remember.”
The president has repeatedly called for increased infrastructure spending as a way to boost the economy and improve the nation’s aging roads and bridges, despite winning little support for the idea from budget-minded Republicans. Earlier this week, the House approved $10.8 billion in transportation spending, just enough to fund already approved projects until May.
House Speaker John A. Boehner pointed to that legislation, as well as a recent job-training bill, as evidence that his party is willing to compromise on economic measures.
“These are just a few of the examples of what Republicans are working on to foster more economic growth and more job creation in our country,” Boehner said. “For the nearly four years of our majority, Republicans have stayed focused on the economy and on jobs. We’ve listened to the American people. Their priorities are our priorities.”
Without bipartisan support, the White House has taken to an unusual approach for a Democratic administration - touting private investment.
On Thursday, the White House announced it would create a new office in the Department of Transportation dedicated to helping states and local governments find private funding for their public works projects. Officials said the Build America Transportation Investment Center would reorganize existing resources and programs that link local governments and investors.
Obama’s stop at the bridge was part of a day trip out of Washington. From Delaware, the president was scheduled to appear at two major fundraisers in New York on Thursday night.