NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, July 27th, 2017

U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee protects transit investments in Washington

Bil­lions of dol­lars in sore­ly need­ed fund­ing for mass tran­sit and infra­struc­ture projects in Wash­ing­ton State will be includ­ed in the Fis­cal Year 2018 Trans­porta­tion, Hous­ing and Urban Devel­op­ment Appro­pri­a­tions bill now mov­ing to the full Unit­ed States Sen­ate, Pat­ty Mur­ray’s office announced today.

“Today, a bipar­ti­san group of sen­a­tors came togeth­er to reject [Don­ald] Trump’s short-sight­ed cuts to the kinds of invest­ments that make a real dif­fer­ence to fam­i­lies and work­ers in Wash­ing­ton state and around the coun­try,” Sen­a­tor Mur­ray said in a press release. “Whether it’s infra­struc­ture invest­ment, afford­able hous­ing, edu­ca­tion, or med­ical research, I will keep fight­ing to make sure the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues to be a good part­ner to the com­mu­ni­ties we rep­re­sent.”

Cour­tesy of Mur­ray’s office, here’s a run­down of some of the vital projects that were pro­tect­ed in the ver­sion of the bill approved by the Appro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee:

  • Cap­i­tal Invest­ment Grant Pro­gram: $2.1 bil­lion, reject­ing Pres­i­dent Trump’s pro­pos­al to block new tran­sit projects from receiv­ing fund­ing, and instead sup­port­ing three tran­sit projects in Puget Sound, includ­ing Sound Transit’s Lyn­nwood Link Exten­sion and Seat­tle Depart­ment of Transportation’s Cen­ter City Con­nec­tor Street­car and Madi­son Street Bus Rapid Tran­sit.
  • Amtrak: $1.2 bil­lion to sup­port long-dis­tance routes, includ­ing the Coast Starlight and Empire Builder that run through Wash­ing­ton, which Don­ald Trump sought to ter­mi­nate.
  • Crude-by-rail Safe­ty Ini­tia­tives:
    • $15.9 mil­lion for the Auto­mat­ed Track Inspec­tion Pro­gram, Rail­road Safe­ty Infor­ma­tion Sys­tem, and research and devel­op­ment,
    • $2 mil­lion for the Short Line Safe­ty Insti­tute for safe­ty train­ing for short line rail­roads trans­port­ing crude oil and ethanol, a pro­gram Sen. Mur­ray helped cre­ate in 2014 and which sup­ports short line rail­roads in Wash­ing­ton,
    • $2 mil­lion for tank car research activ­i­ties, and
    • Directs the U.S. Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion to com­plete a rule­mak­ing to expand com­pre­hen­sive oil spill response plan require­ments to rail car­ri­ers no lat­er than 5 days after enact­ment of this bill to bet­ter pro­tect the safe­ty of our com­mu­ni­ties and envi­ron­ment.

There’s also $550 mil­lion to con­tin­ue the TIGER pro­gram (Trans­porta­tion Invest­ment Gen­er­at­ing Eco­nom­ic Recov­ery) which has come to the res­cue of more than a dozen high pro­file trans­porta­tion infra­struc­ture projects in Wash­ing­ton State, like the South Park bridge replace­ment effort.

It is a huge relief to hear that Sen­a­tor Mur­ray was able to secure fund­ing for Sound Tran­sit’s Lyn­nwood Link expan­sion, the Cen­tral City Con­nec­tor Street­car, and Amtrak long dis­tance routes. The oth­er appro­pri­a­tions are cer­tain­ly wins too, but our region was real­ly going to suf­fer if fund­ing for train ser­vice was pulled.

The Trump regime’s attempts to gut fund­ing for tran­sit fly in the face of Don­ald’s rhetoric dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, when he talked about (and cam­paigned on) putting mon­ey into infra­struc­ture. Amer­i­ca has a mas­sive infra­struc­ture deficit, which would be bad­ly exac­er­bat­ed by the regime’s desired bud­get cuts.

Thank­ful­ly, we have sen­a­tors like Pat­ty Mur­ray who are stand­ing up to the regime and fight­ing for the invest­ments that we need.

As Trump does­n’t have line item veto pow­er, he will either have to accept or reject the Fis­cal Year 2018 Trans­porta­tion, Hous­ing and Urban Devel­op­ment Appro­pri­a­tions bill when it gets to him. He won’t be able to mark it up him­self.

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One Ping

  1. […] U.S. Senate’s appro­pri­a­tions bill not near­ly as bad as the Trump bud­get. […]

    Ping from News Roundup: Out of the Gate :: August 3rd, 2017 at 7:35 AM