(04/18/12) - In this partisan political climate, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle don't seem to agree on a lot. One thing they do agree on is that the economy is getting better, but it's not there yet. One bill, in particular, if passed, could yield positive results almost immediately.
Thousands of road construction jobs across the country have been on hold since the end of March when the last transportation bill expired.
"The most immediate and important source of jobs would be to pass a really good transportation bill," explained Democratic Sen. Carl Levin.
Levin was one of 74 senators who voted to pass a new version of a highway bill last month. Supporters say the $109 billion plan could help save or create nearly three million jobs, but the House of Representatives hasn't voted on it yet.
"We've got a lot of projects in Michigan that are stymied from the beginning, because the Republican House will not pass a transportation bill," Levin said.
"The Senate only wants to do a two-year bill…and we'd like to have a five-year bill, which is historically what Congress has done – a five-year reauthorization," explained Republican Rep. Candice Miller.
Miller sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. She says good infrastructure is vital to the health of the economy.
"We are willing to go to conference and work out our differences," Miller said.
And then there's the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It was signed into law more than three years ago, but is apparently still helping local businesses. Magna E-Car Systems just opened a new factory in Grand Blanc Township this week with money they got from the Recovery Act.
"It didn't work as well or as fast as we wanted it to, but it had a very positive effect overall," said Levin.
Miller says the House is working on other legislation she says would help the economy – like tax cuts to small businesses. She also says passing a budget would also be helpful, because she says the country's growing debt is "an economic wet blanket."
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