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Local News Politics

Congressman Yarmuth Joins Twitter

Third District Congressman John Yarmuth has joined Twitter. The Louisville Democrat is far from the first Kentucky politician to join the social network. He follows  Republican Senator Rand Paul and GOP congressmen Brett GuthrieGeoff Davis and Ed Whitfield. Earlier this year, Paul and President Barack Obama had a (very) brief policy chat on Twitter over the debt ceiling.

You can track other lawmakers’ accounts on the Tweet Congress website.

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Paul, Yarmuth Will Join Obama Aboard Air Force One Today

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., will travel with President Obama on Air Force One Thursday morning en route to the Brent Spence Bridge in northern Kentucky.

The president is visiting the span in Cincinnati to rally support for his jobs plan and both lawmakers plan to speak with Mr. Obama directly about the region’s infrastructure needs and closure of the Sherman Minton Bridge in Louisville.

Paul says if the White House is serious about fixing bridges, Mr. Obama will consider an emergency bridge fund that he’s proposing.

“I am looking forward to speaking with the president in my home state to address the express need for attention to our nation’s critical infrastructure needs. I will present him with my plan to prioritize these projects by freeing up funding to fix our broken roads and bridges, for which America’s businesses and commerce is so dependent,” he says.

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Resolution Urges Expedited Ohio River Bridges Project

Citing the closure of the Sherman Minton Bridge, leaders of the Louisville Metro Council Transportation and Public Works Committee have drafted a resolution calling for an expedited construction schedule for the Ohio River Bridges Project.

Councilman Robin Engel, R-22, and Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton, D-5, who head the transportation committee, drafted the non-binding measure to encourage local, state and federal officials to become more involved with the behemoth public works project.

City lawmakers will be joined by some of the bridges projects big name supporters, including former Jefferson County Judge Executive Rebecca Jackson, Humana, Inc. founder David Jones and David Nicklies, former chairman of the Bridges Coalition.

Engel and Hamilton say other elected officials and community leaders must step up to push the $3.6 billion project forward.

“The Ohio River Bridges Project is essential to interstate commerce and will create thousands of desperately needed jobs, open up significant economic development opportunities and save motorists over $1.6 Billion in fuel and maintenance costs over a 20 year period,” the resolution says.

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Local News Politics

McConnell, Yarmuth, Young and Fischer to Tour Sherman Minton Bridge

Inspectors have been surveying the damage on the Sherman Minton Bridge for over a week, and Saturday, they’ll be joined by a group of elected officials.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, Senate Minority Mitch McConnell and U.S. Representatives John Yarmuth and Todd Young will join federal and state transportation officials on a tour of the bridge. Afterward, they’ll discuss their findings with the media to update the public.

It’s not clear how severe the damage on the 50-year-old span is or whether it can even be repaired. Whether McConnell, Yarmuth, Young and other lawmakers will be able to secure federal funding to repair or replace the bridge is also unclear. The issue has been a frequent topic of discussion since the bridge closed last week.

McConnell will appear on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday. He’s expected to discuss President Barack Obama’s upcoming visit to a crumbling bridge between Ohio and Kentucky. The president is promoting his jobs plan, which calls for increased spending on infrastructure. McConnell has been critical of the plan.

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Northup Slams River Fields, Yarmuth Over Bridges

Appearing on 84 WHAS radio Thursday morning to discuss the closure of the Sherman Minton Bridge, former Congresswoman Anne Northup blamed the conservation group River Fields and incumbent Congressman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., for the city’s inadequate infrastructure.

The Sherman Minton Bridge shut down last week after Indiana inspectors found a crack in the main load-bearing portion of the span. The sudden closure has rerouted thousands of motorist in the area and reignited calls for a span to be built in east Louisville to alleviate traffic congestion.

Northup specifically slammed River Fields for filing several lawsuits to obstruct the Ohio River Bridges Project—which calls for a downtown bridge, an East End bridge and reconfiguration of Spaghetti Junction—from going forward.

“My leadership wasn’t about this is what I want. It was about what this community wants. And there was no one willing to step up to the very powerful people that were part of River Fields and say we are going to get this process back on track,” she says.

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Yarmuth Discusses Sherman Minton Bridge on Maddow

Sounding the alarm about the country’s infrastructure needs, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., appeared on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show Tuesday to discuss the closure of the Sherman Minton Bridge.

The sudden closure of the bridge last week has rerouted thousands living in Louisville and southern Indiana, who’ve had to find an alternate route across the Ohio River.

During the show, Yarmuth challenged Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who is also from Louisville, to talk to motorists about what’s been locally dubbed “Shermageddon”.

Check it out:

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Local News Politics

Yarmuth Says Sherman Minton Repairs as Serious as Disaster Relief

Third District Congressman John Yarmuth has called the White House to discuss the Sherman Minton Bridge closure.

“We have no idea at this point the extent of the repairs that would be needed or even if the bridge can be repaired,” says Yarmuth. “There’s a chance this is going to require a significant expenditure of money and that could require congressional action.”

Yarmuth says the bridge’s effect on the local economy is too large to ignore. He’s talked with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as well.

In his jobs speech last week, President Barack Obama cited the Brent Spence Bridge several miles upriver as an example of the country’s crumbling infrastructure. Yarmuth says if federal spending is necessary to repair or replace the Sherman Minton Bridge, it must not be politicized.

“If this is the type of thing that politicians in Washington can’t resolve, then the system is hopelessly broken. This is something that shouldn’t be partisan. There shouldn’t be a question about the need to do this. This is every bit as serious as disaster relief in Vermont and New Jersey and Connecticut,” he says.

A spokesman for McConnell says the Senator is watching the situation and talking with transportation officials.

Indiana congressman Todd Young says he’s working with state officials as well.

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Local News Politics

Kentucky Lawmakers Respond to Jobs Plan

Elected officials in Kentucky are split along party lines on President Barack Obama’s jobs plan.

Tonight, the president put forward a $450 billion proposal to create jobs. It calls for infrastructure spending, payroll tax cuts, an extension of unemployment benefits and reforms to Medicaid and Social Security.

Junior Senator Rand Paul was the first lawmaker to issue a response, releasing a video minutes after the speech ended. Paul repeated his calls for a balanced budget amendment and encouraged the president to support cuts in spending and the corporate tax rate.

Kentucky’s four Republican members of the House—Ed Whitfield, Brett Guthrie, Geoff Davis, Hal Rogers—were also critical of the plan.

Democratic Congressmen Ben Chandler and John Yarmuth were supportive of the president’s proposals in statements released after the speech. Yarmuth said he wants to see specific details, but the plan should gain bipartisan support.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, a Democrat, called on Congress to pass the plan, saying numerous infrastructure projects in Louisville could benefit from it.

Obama also called on lawmakers to “stop the political circus” in his speech.

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Yarmuth Wants Bold Ideas from Obama Jobs Speech

Joining fellow members of Congress, U.S. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., is eager to hear President Barack Obama’s jobs plan Thursday night, which could entail at least $300 billion in tax cuts and federal aid to local communities.

The proposal is being called “The American Jobs Act” and includes a two percent payroll tax cut, extending unemployment benefits and spending $100 billion on infrastructure projects. It is expected Mr. Obama will put an emphasis on states hit hardest by the recession and cities still dealing with a sluggish economy.

Yarmuth says some parts of the proposal won’t be able to pass the Republican-controlled House, but he hopes certain elements and ideas will be enacted.

“I think the president has to be decisive and I think he has to be—the term is probably overused—bold. And I think he needs to make sure that the American people understand the choices that we have and the absolute necessity of moving in a certain direction,” he says.

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Local News Politics

Yarmuth: Congressional Help for Postal Service is a Long Shot

The U.S. Postal Service is on the brink of defaulting on its employee pension obligations and is asking congressional leaders for assistance, but U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., says lawmakers may have too much on their plate to help the ailing agency.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe told a Senate committee Tuesday the agency was likely to run out of cash before the end of the month. The Postal Service faces a $10 billion deficit for the fiscal year and must make a $5.5 billion payment to retiree benefits due on Sept. 30.

Donahoe warned the agency could shutdown next year unless Congress approves a long-term financial solution.

Congressman Yarmuth say lawmakers could help the ailing agency by refunding nearly $7 billion in overpayments to the federal employee pension system. But he says the agency faces some tough choices due to changing technology that has made mail delivery almost obsolete.

“The postal service does face some structural and long-term problems and that basically comes from the business that they’ve lost because of the Internet. This would not serve their long-term problems, but it certainly would solve their short-term obligations and again this is not money that would cost the taxpayer anything,” he says.