House Republicans Remind America They Hate Passenger Rail
House Republicans have proposed a new spending plan that cuts $200 million from federal transit spending – cuts that would undermine Los Angeles rail expansion plans as well as California high speed rail:
With House Republicans proposing spending cuts for new transit projects, Los Angeles officials will have their work cut out to secure $200 million in federal funds next year for a subway extension to Los Angeles’ Westside and a downtown tunnel to link light-rail lines.
The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday proposed $1.7 billion nationwide for new transit projects, down from $1.9 billion provided this year. The Obama administration has proposed $2.5 billion.
The bill also provides no money for high-speed rail projects, a provision sought by congressional Republican critics of the California project.
Unfortunately the media gets this wrong. Republicans aren’t “critics” of the HSR project since there’s no iteration of that project that they would like. What their funding proposal shows instead is that they hate all passenger rail and want to defund as much of it as possible. Doesn’t matter to them where it goes, how many riders it carries, or how essential the service is, they just don’t like it and don’t want to fund it ever.
The sad truth is that as long as Republicans hold a majority in either part of Congress, the federal government won’t be able to support passenger rail in America, and may even be an obstacle:
But the bill does include a provision that state officials say could cause trouble for the project.
It would prevent federal funding unless the federal Surface Transportation Board has jurisdiction over the entire project and “the permit is or was issued by the board with respect to the project in its entirety.”
There’s been a lot of discussion lately of cities going it alone thanks to Republican obstruction at the state and federal level. California doesn’t have that problem in Sacramento. But this provision, whether it lives or dies, is a reminder that Congress can undermine local rail efforts anytime they want. We need to reclaim it from anti-rail ideologues.