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House Transportation Appropriations Proposal Must Be Rejected

By Admin

The Honorable Patty Murray
Senate Appropriations Transportation-HUD Subcommittee
448 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Susan Collins
Ranking Member
Senate Appropriations Transportation-HUD Subcommittee
413 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Murray and Ranking Member Collins:

Last week, the House Appropriations Transportation-HUD Subcommittee marked up a bill that would decimate our nation’s transportation system and economy.  I urge you to reject these draconian funding levels and report out a bill that invests in transit systems, highways, rail, aviation and port infrastructure to fund overdue transportation improvements while helping our economy recover. 

The funding levels in the House subcommittee’s mark were almost preordained as a result of the Ryan Budget Resolution.  While we understand that some individual Republican members of the subcommittee may have disliked the appropriation amounts included in the bill, the final result is unacceptable.  There can be no doubt that these cuts would eliminate jobs, undermine safety and create additional transportation congestion.

The House subcommittee bill would lead to an Amtrak shutdown.  It would slash the railroad’s operating grant by $336 million, 60 percent below the fiscal year 2011 funding level.  It would also bar the use of grant funds on state-supported services including those in Washington and Maine.  If imposed separately, these cuts would put Amtrak’s future at risk.  Together, they will lead to the destruction of the railroad and its 20,000 jobs, not to mention the chaos such a shutdown would cause in our national transportation network.  The decision to abolish Amtrak’s state-supported service in 15 states when fiscal year 2012 begins next month would eliminate almost half of daily departures, or nearly 150 weekday trains carrying nine million passengers every year.  Attached is a chart that details the effect of these cuts on local service. 

The cuts to transit and highway funding in this bill would worsen our economic downturn while degrading transportation safety.  The failure to fix failing bridges and roads or to defer the replacement of aging buses and transit vehicles is simply not acceptable.  However, that is exactly the result of the bill that was approved by the subcommittee. 

The legislation would make a $3 billion, or 30 percent, cut to discretionary transit program funding.  Additionally, it would trim New Starts by $50 million from FY11 and $450 million from FY10 while changing policy to require that localities or states must fund at least 50 percent of any new grant agreement.  We are pleased that the subcommittee agreed to an amendment offered by Rep. John Carter (R-TX) to provide local transit agencies with operating assistance to forestall service cuts and layoffs that are plaguing systems all over the country.  Given the growing scope of this problem, we urge the Senate to expand transit operating assistance in its bill. 

The $14 billion decrease in support for highways, a 34 percent cut, would lower investments from $41 billion in FY11 to $27 billion FY12 at the expense of nearly a half million jobs.  American highways already suffer from degradation.  The decision to take a hacksaw to transportation appropriations places additional stress on our fragile economy and destroys jobs at a time of severe long-term unemployment.

In addition to the devastating cuts outlined above, the House T-HUD bill does not fund high-speed rail grants, Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing or TIGER grants.  It is shortsighted to cut these programs, which have a proven ability to create jobs and improve our national infrastructure while investing in future national economic growth. 

The House Transportation-HUD Subcommittee’s bill would ruin our transportation system and eliminate jobs in an economy that can ill-afford further hemorrhaging.  I urge you to reject the funding levels embodied in the House version and instead advance a bill that funds America’s transportation network.    


Edward Wytkind


Attached Document or File This letter on TTD letterhead, with attachment