Biden calls on governors to lead nation - KAUZ-TV: Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

Biden calls on governors to lead nation

Posted: Updated:
(AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke, File). FILE - In this June 26, 2014, file photo, Vice President Joe Biden speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke, File). FILE - In this June 26, 2014, file photo, Vice President Joe Biden speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington.
  • NationalMore>>

  • Fire season in West expected to get more intense

    Fire season in West expected to get more intense

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 4:03 PM EDT2014-07-23 20:03:47 GMT
    Despite widespread drought in the West, wildfires have burned less than half the 10-year average area so far this summer.
    Despite widespread drought in the West and expectations of an above-average wildfire season, wildfires have burned less than half the 10-year average area so far this summer.
  • Meat supplier in China scandal has global reach

    Meat supplier in China scandal has global reach

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 3:52 PM EDT2014-07-23 19:52:16 GMT
    It isn't a household name, but the company that's at the center of a food scandal in China helps make some of the world's most popular foods, including the Big Macs and Quarter Pounders served at...
    It isn't a household name, but the company at the center of a food scandal in China helps make some of the world's most popular foods, including the Big Macs and Quarter Pounders served at McDonald's locations.
  • Officials release sketch in peacock shooting death

    Officials release sketch in peacock shooting death

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 3:33 PM EDT2014-07-23 19:33:09 GMT
    Officials have released a sketch of a man suspected of shooting and killing a peacock from his Mercedes-Benz earlier this month in Southern California.
    Officials have released a sketch of a man suspected of shooting and killing a peacock from his Mercedes-Benz earlier this month in Southern California.
By STEVE PEOPLES and ERIK SCHELZIG
Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Vice President Joe Biden on Friday condemned the political gridlock crippling Washington, calling on Republican and Democratic governors alike to lead the nation "out of this mess" while insisting that Congress approve billions of dollars to repair the country's aging infrastructure.

"The way things have gotten today, and I'm not singling out any party or any group of people - the politics, the culture in Washington, it's become too personal, it's too corrosive," Biden said during a meeting of the National Governors Association. "I think you've got to lead us out of this mess we're in."

The vice president's comments came during the first day of the governors' three-day conference in Nashville, where state leaders from both parties gathered to collaborate despite intensifying partisan differences on immigration, health care and education.

Despite the bipartisan tone, the approaching midterm elections loomed over the gathering.

Many governors face voters in an election season that will decide the balance of power in statehouses from Nevada to New Hampshire and could end some presidential campaigns before they begin.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a first-term governor locked in a heated re-election battle, lead a group of ambitious Republicans that appeared at the downtown Nashville conference. Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley is among the Democrats weighing a 2016 presidential run.

"You can be in a room where you have six, seven, eight people who are thinking they might run for president in two years, which makes for some interesting personal dynamics at times," Tennessee's Republican Gov. Bill Haslam said.

Biden, a possible presidential contender himself, struck a distinctly cooperative tone in his remarks.

The political climate in Washington, he said, was less divisive when he began serving in the Senate more than three decades ago, a time when white segregationists served openly in Congress.

"Even in those days, the politics was intense, ideological differences were real, but it never got to where it is today," Biden said. "It was never personal. It was never cast in the context of you're good or bad."

Biden said Democrats and Republicans have long agreed on the need to invest in the nation's infrastructure and workforce development, although in the current climate even infrastructure spending is bogged down by politics. Governors have been concerned about the impending deadline for Congress to pay for the federal Highway Trust Fund, which helps states maintain their transportation infrastructure. While a short-term bill is expected to clear Congress, governors want a long-term plan.

But most governors attending the event were hesitant to suggest specific solutions to bridge a funding shortfall.

Fuel taxes are the Highway Trust Fund's main revenue source, but they haven't been raised in 21 years and aren't keeping pace with spending. A bipartisan Senate proposal to increase the federal gas tax has so far failed to gain traction.

"I'm sort of indifferent as to the source of the funding," said Jack Markell, the Democratic governor of Delaware, which was forced to close a damaged interstate bridge last month. "But I think what we can't have is a series of these eight-month stop-gap measures."

Walker, the Wisconsin Republican, would not endorse an increase in the federal gas tax when asked, but he called for "other revenue options."

"It's a big deal," Walker said. "So many states like Wisconsin are dependent on the federal gas tax."

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear of Kentucky said his state has had to put $185 million of road projects on hold because of the congressional impasse.

It's unclear what role, if any, infrastructure problems will play in the coming elections, although Washington's struggle with what was long a bipartisan issue is emblematic of voters' overall view of Congress, which is at historic lows.

"We're looking to you," Biden told the governors. "Continue to teach us a lesson by getting along with one another."

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • InternationalMore>>

  • Central African Republic's rebels sign cease-fire

    Central African Republic's rebels sign cease-fire

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 3:52 PM EDT2014-07-23 19:52:11 GMT
    Representatives of the Muslim and Christian factions battling in Central African Republic have signed a cease-fire agreement in Brazzaville, capital of neighboring Republic of Congo.
    Representatives of the Muslim and Christian factions battling in Central African Republic signed a cease-fire agreement on Wednesday in neighboring Republic of Congo.
  • US pushes for truce as Gaza battle rages

    US pushes for truce as Gaza battle rages

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 3:45 PM EDT2014-07-23 19:45:26 GMT
    Dozens of Palestinian families trapped by clashes between Hamas militants and Israeli troops are scrambling to flee a southern Gaza Strip neighborhood as Israel reported that two more of its soldiers have died in...
    Israeli troops battled Hamas militants on Wednesday near a southern Gaza Strip town as the top U.S. diplomat reported progress in efforts to end fighting that has so far killed more than 680 Palestinians and 34 Israelis.
  • Sierra Leone doctor fighting Ebola catches disease

    Sierra Leone doctor fighting Ebola catches disease

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 3:44 PM EDT2014-07-23 19:44:05 GMT
    Sierra Leone's health minister confirms that the doctor in charge of battling the current Ebola outbreak has himself become ill with the deadly disease.
    Sierra Leone's health minister confirms that the doctor in charge of battling the current Ebola outbreak has himself become ill with the deadly disease.