Lowey Statement at Markup of 2015 Transportation-HUD Appropriations Act
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
First, I would like to thank Mr. Latham and Mr. Pastor for including language in the manager’s amendment that designates some unexpended funds at the FRA for activities related to improving the rail transport of energy products like crude oil.
I appreciate the efforts of the Chairman and Ranking Member to put this bill together. Their job was made all the more difficult by a much lower than expected FHA and Ginnie Mae receipts.
Unfortunately, the investments in this bill aren’t enough to maintain the country’s highway and transit infrastructure. I am specifically concerned about cuts to the following critical programs:
- Amtrak’s capital funding is decreased by $200 million below FY14, which will defer critical repairs;
- Capital Investment Grants, which support new subway, light rail, and commuter projects, are $809 million below the request, and the bill contains no funding for transit projects that are in the pipeline;
- TIGER would receive a paltry $100 million. While I am pleased the majority included it in its bill for the first time, the proposed level is insufficient; and
- On the housing-side, both HOME and the Public Housing Capital Fund, which are vital for the rehabilitation and modernization of our country’s affordable housing stock, face sharp decreases. At $700 million, HOME is funded at its lowest level since the program began in 1992, and the Public Housing Capital Fund is funded below the sequester level.
Additionally, I am disappointed that funding wasn't included to support the installation of Positive Train Control (PTC). On this point, Congressman Quigley and I plan to offer an amendment, and I hope my colleagues will support it.
And, while we were able to provide a slight increase for the transport of energy products at the FRA in the manager’s amendment and additional resources at Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration for research and development activities to improve training and outreach efforts related to incident response for oil and gas accidents, I would have liked for this Committee fully support the President’s new Safe Transportation of Energy Products Fund for prevention and response activities across all agencies at DOT that are grappling with the dangers of transport of crude oil.
Communities across the country, including many in my district, live in fear of another train derailment like the one that occurred in Quebec, Canada last July, and this Committee has a duty to fully fund initiatives to make transport of these materials safer.
That said, I am deeply appreciative that the Chairman worked with me to include report language urging DOT to take a multi-faceted and comprehensive approach to the oversight of crude oil. This language specifically directs the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to update emergency spill response planning thresholds, improve training protocols unique to crude oil and ethanol incident responses, and finalize a rule improving safety standards for crude oil tank cars by the end of September.
I would be remiss if I didn’t note my objection to the inclusion of riders on California high speed rail and on truck weight exemptions. These riders will be controversial and will only hinder the bill’s progress through the Congress.
It is my sincere hope that we can improve this bill as the process moves forward, and I urge the Senate Appropriations Committee to include appropriate levels for important programs that were underfunded in this bill.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.