Toomey Helps Block Bill Which Would Fix Philly’s Deficient Bridges, Create Jobs

toomey signYesterday, Mayor Michael Nutter took to the 40th Street Bridge to “to advocate for sustained infrastructure investment by the Federal government”—specifically, the Rebuild America Jobs Act, a portion of the Congressionally-rejected American Jobs Act of 2011 President Barack Obama introduced earlier this year. The bill was up for a vote in Washington later that day.

The Rebuild America Jobs Act (RAJA) would have immediately put an estimated 44,600 people to work in Pennsylvania, and created an estimated 5,307 jobs in Philadelphia (450,000 nationwide) by investing $50 billion into transportation infrastructure systems, like highway, transit, rail and airport improvements. It also would have created a national infrastructure bank.

Nutter took to the 40th Street Bridge, specifically, because like thousands of other PA bridges, it needs work bad. “President Obama understands by investing in America’s infrastructure, we are improving the livability of our neighborhoods. The 40th Street Bridge project, which is largely financed with Federal dollars, will reconnect the city to the historic Fairmount Park Centennial District. This bridge is an example of a Federal investment that reduces blight, increases mobility, and creates jobs that cannot be outsourced,” he said.

On its face, RAJA seemed sound—and needed. There are 69,223 “structurally deficient” bridges in the United States requiring “significant maintenance, rehabilitation or replacement,” according to Transportation for America. And of those, Pennsylvania has about 6,000 which are structurally deficient, the most in the U.S. Of the Metro areas with more than 2 million people, Philadelphia ranks third in deficient bridges, with 20 percent deficiency. And here’s something: Every second, about 108 people cross a Philly-area structurally deficient bridge.

Click here for a map of Philadelphia’s terrible bridges.

So, after Congress rejected the American Jobs Act (AJA) on its face, RAJA was up for a vote in the Senate yesterday—and failed. All Republican Senators, including Pat Toomey, and two self-hating Democrats (Lieberman and Ben Nelson) voted against it. At that, the bill received a majority of votes in the Senate (51) but came up nine votes short of defeating a filibuster, which Republicans have broken congressional records using over the past three years.

Americans favor the AJA as a whole by 45 percent to 32 percent. And of those Americans who are “following news of the bill very closely” according to a recent Gallup Poll, 57 percent support the bill.

The rejection of the bill does not come as a shock, as it would have been paid for with a tax increase on the wealthy (the top 0.5 percent), unlike most government projects and wars of the last decade, which were paid for in debt. And many Republicans have signed statements to billionaire conservative activists and funders saying they will not raise taxes on them. So, there.

Pat Toomey called the AJA “Obama’s latest stimulus” and said it “contains hundreds of billions of dollars in increased spending and more tax hikes, which won’t create jobs any more than his last stimulus bill did. With the unemployment rate at 9.1 percent, we do not have time to waste on political games and big tax increases that will only make our economy weaker for all Americans.” He has not yet issued a statement on the infrastructure bill.

Some local groups, such as Fight For Philly, have been urging Toomey to vote for the bill, or at least part of it, to put Pennsylvanians back to work. At a recent protest at his Philadelphia office, a member of the group said they’ve “tried calling him, over and over again, tried meeting with him, but we keep getting passed on to lower people.”

His staff allegedly says the Senator does not have time to meet with these Philadelphians. However, on November 16, Toomey, a member of the congressional supercommittee is hosting a birthday party for himself which will has a door price of $500 for individuals and $1000 for Political Action Committees. There’s your chance.

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