California Congressional Democrats Call For Funding HSR
According to the LA Times, “virtually all” of California’s Democratic Congressional delegation signed a letter denouncing the Republican “highway bill” that defunds most forms of mass transit, including high speed rail:
As Congress gears up for an unusual fight over a new transportation bill, virtually all of California’s Democratic delegation has come out against the Republican-drafted measure, saying it would cut funding to the state.
The state’s Democrats also say they object to provisions that would bar funding for California’s high-speed rail project, open the Southern California coast to energy exploration and “cripple our transit agencies” by ending the decades-old use of gas tax funds for mass transit. They contend the bill would cut highway funding to the state by nearly $725 million over five years.
“If this bill is enacted into law, it will hurt California’s fragile economy by cutting vital funding, prohibiting new funds from being dispersed to one of California’s largest infrastructure projects and delaying safety measures,” the lawmakers said in a letter to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio)….
California Democrats also complained about the prohibition on funding high-speed rail in the state.
“Prohibiting funds for high-sped rail in California, when other states are free to move forward with high-speed rail, will prevent California from being able to decide how to best address its capacity constraints and transportation needs,” they wrote.
That’s a strong statement against the flawed bill and for high speed rail. One wonders how State Senator Alan Lowenthal, a Democrat who opposes high speed rail and who wants to join the California Democratic Congressional delegation, feels about this letter. Would he stand by the strong defense of HSR? Or would he choose to undermine Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and the state’s two HSR-supporting US Senators and oppose federal HSR funding?
Last month Lowenthal was joined by two other Democratic State Senators in attacking the high speed rail project, giving cover and support to the House Republicans who have used those criticisms to justify defunding HSR:
ep. Jeff Denham (R-Atwater), who sought to prohibit funding for the project, said in a statement: “Highway bill money should be used on highways.
“This administration and the California legislature want high-speed rail at any cost, they will spend lavishly without a disciplined plan and say anything to get it done, but this amendment will prohibit highway bill money from being used on a project that is going nowhere fast.”
I’m sure there’s someone out there in the California press corps that would be interested in asking Lowenthal, Mark DeSaulnier, or Joe Simitian whether they side with Jeff Denham or whether they side with their fellow Democrats.
We’ll see what happens in Congress with the transportation bill. Or should we call it the “highway bill”?
“It’s a lot harder to win votes when you don’t have goodies to pass out,” Boehner told the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington. Boehner also said at a news conference the measure would be the first highway bill he’s ever supported. “In the past, highway bills represented everything that was wrong with Washington: earmarks, endless layers of bureaucracy, wasted tax dollars and misplaced priorities,” he said.
That has to be a deliberate word choice on the part of Boehner. Republicans believe that transportation = highways and nothing else, despite the fact that walking, biking, and mass transit are already essential ways that people get around and are even more important during an era of soaring gas prices and global warming.
But once again we see that Republicans are waging war on the 21st century, determined to destroy all alternatives to the automobile and forcing everyone to hand over their wallets to their oil company allies.
Why would any Democrat in Sacramento help them do that?