COLUMBIA -- U.S. Rep. James Clyburn said Friday it is time for Congress to roll out a second economic stimulus package one aimed at putting Americans back to work and defraying the skyrocketing cost of living for average families.
The Democratic-led U.S. House is expected to unveil a new proposal in about two weeks, said Clyburn, D-Columbia.
He hopes the plan will include $1 billion to fund a summer work program in cities and communities across the country, creating 1 million new jobs and an instant infusion to the stalling U.S. economy.
Clyburn said he also will push to include in the new package a $10 billion to $15 billion appropriation to put Americans to work improving the country's crumbling infrastructure, primarily deteriorating roads and bridges.
House Majority Whip Clyburn said Democrats pushed for these proposals in the initial stimulus package, a $150 billion economic plan enacted in February, but President Bush opposed them.
However, credit markets that continue to reel from high oil prices and a housing bust are causing a crunch in student loans, and Clyburn said high school and college students across the country will need work this summer in order to return to school.
"It is interesting that this White House agreed to a rebate, but wouldn't agree to a summer jobs program," Clyburn said.
He and Washington Sen. Patty Murray have introduced bills in the House and Senate to fund The Workforce Investment Act, a national work program in place in all 50 states.
Clyburn wants those bills fast-tracked in the new stimulus package.
Meanwhile, he blasted the White House over the U.S. Highway Trust Fund, which he said is underfunded this year by $5 billion, and questioned a mentality "that passes out rebates for nothing," when there is work to be done.
Clyburn also said he expects Republican support for the new stimulus. "I think my Republican colleagues are coming to the conclusion that President Bush is an albatross around their necks."
Taxpayers and the U.S. economy still are waiting to feel the first effects of the initial stimulus package, expected to begin arriving in the form of rebate checks next month or in June.
In an interview with local reporters, Clyburn also:
• Blasted the Bush administration for not releasing oil from the nation's strategic reserves;
• Sharply criticized presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain for calling for an end to the gas tax; and
• Ridiculed ABC News for the way it conducted Thursday night's debate between Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama of Illinois and Hillary Clinton of New York.