President Obama called on Congress Wednesday to pass a transportation funding bill that includes an extension of the federal gas tax, claiming the move would protect about 1 million jobs.

At issue is the renewal of a transportation spending bill that expires Sept. 30. The president, speaking in the Rose Garden, said a failure to pass the bill by that date would result in the government losing needed money and construction workers losing needed jobs.

Though the president describes the proposal as a transportation bill, its key component is the federal gas tax, which has been 18.4 cents per gallon for nearly two decades. The money is used to fund road construction and repair, as well as other projects — the tax costs Americans an average of $100 a year.

The call for renewal comes as gas prices remain high — the national average for a gallon of regular is about $3.62, a dollar more than a year ago. Some conservatives want to allow states, not the federal government, to raise and spend the gas tax money.

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