A $100 billion transportation bill President Barack Obama signed into law Friday will put 10,000 people in Maryland to work on state bridges and roads and represents "what can actually be accomplished if Congress comes together," Gov.Martin O'Malley said in an interview.
O'Malley attended the signing ceremony in the East Room of the White House on Friday along with a bipartisan group of lawmakers who worked on the bill, including House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica, a Florida Republican, and Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat who heads the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.
Baltimore Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, a member of the House Transportation Committee, also attended.
"It's a really positive step forward," O'Malley said in an interview after the bill signing. "I would like to see it as a sign of what can actually be accomplished if Congress comes together around the practical things that work and create jobs and rebuild our infrastructure. And so let's hope there's more of it."
The law, which also prevents student loan interest rates from doubling, was cleared by Congress just before a previously approved federal transportation program was set to expire, jeopardizing billions in highway and mass transit construction project funding. The bill will fund those projects for the next two years.
"These steps will make a real difference in the lives of millions of Americans -- some of whom are standing with us here today. But make no mistake, we've got a lot more to do," Obama said. "The construction industry, for example, was hit brutally hard when the housing bubble burst. So it's not enough just to keep construction workers on the job doing projects that were already underway."
The bill signing came on the same day the Labor Department reported disappointing job numbers for June. The economy added 80,000 jobs in that month, less than market expectations.