Obama: Failing to extend highway bill inexcusable

By JULIE PACE | August 31, 2011 | 11:15 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Warning of dire consequences for the nation's workers, President Barack Obama on Wednesday urged Congress to extend a federal highway bill that he said would protect a million jobs.

"For construction workers and their families across the country it represents the different between making ends meet and not making ends meet," Obama said during a speech in the Rose Garden.

At issue is the renewal of a transportation spending bill that expires Sept. 30. A Senate proposal would last only two years and cost $109 billion, while the House is considering a longer, six-year bill that could cut spending from current levels.

The president said 4,000 workers would be immediately furloughed without pay if the bill is not extended, and a significant delay could lead to 1 million workers losing their jobs over the next year.

"All of them will be out of a job just because of politics in Washington," Obama said. "That's just not acceptable. It's inexcusable."