Chairwoman Lowey Statement at Hearing on FY 2020 DOT Budget Request

2019-04-10 11:00

Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey (D-NY), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, delivered the following remarks at the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee's hearing on the fiscal year 2020 budget request for the Department of Transportation:

Thank you, Chairman Price and Ranking Member Diaz-Balart, for holding this hearing. Welcome, Secretary Chao.

In a speech less than two weeks ago, you outlined your priorities for the Department of Transportation.

First, safety.

Second, rebuilding and refurbishing our country’s infrastructure.

Third, preparing for the future.

If a budget reflects values, it seems the Trump Administration does not actually share these priorities.

While the Department of Transportation’s primary directive is safety, your budget proposes:

  • FAA aviation safety cuts of $9 million;
  • A 20% cut to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Programs, such as those aimed at increasing resiliency in crashes; and
  • FRA Railroad Research and Development cuts of more than half.

These dramatic decreases would seriously jeopardize safety.

Your budget request also falls short on rebuilding and refurbishing our country’s infrastructure.

By neglecting to include even one cent for the Gateway project, the Administration is neglecting upgrades to its own assets, as the aging and crumbling Hudson tunnel is owned by Amtrak.

Your claim that New York and New Jersey aren’t committing enough funding for the project ignores Congressional direction in the Fiscal Year 2019 spending bill that specified that federal loans, which do get repaid, count as local share of funding.

Instead of paying attention to the urgent reality that an unplanned closure of the Hudson tunnel would be disastrous for our economy and disrupt the lives of hundreds of thousands of daily commuters, your Administration has made a political decision that endangers the safety of travelers who pass through that tunnel every day.

When our current infrastructure is in such desperate need of repair, preparing for the future must mean ensuring continuity of service and the sustained safety of infrastructure right now.

Frankly, I am unimpressed by your budget request.

Twice the Administration has proposed cuts that would shortchange our national infrastructure, and twice Congress has responded by passing responsible funding levels.

Please do better next time.

I look forward to your testimony.

116th Congress