Chairwoman Lowey Statement at Hearing on FY 2021 DOT Budget Request

2020-02-27 10:45

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 2021 budget request for the Department of Transportation:

Thank you, Chairman Price and Ranking Member Diaz-Balart, for holding this important hearing.  Welcome, Secretary Chao, and thank you for being here today.

Secretary Chao, you and I had a very productive meeting two weeks ago.  I was impressed by your candor, your knowledge, and your willingness to work in partnership.  It’s my hope that we can maintain and grow this positive relationship.

However, I must note several gross inadequacies in your budget request including:

  • a $374.5 million decrease for Northeast Corridor Grants to Amtrak;
  • a $90 million decrease to Capital Investment Grants;
  • Elimination of Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair grants; and
  • No proposal to pay for crucial spending for roads, bridges and transit that comes from the Highway Trust Fund.

These decreases and eliminations would seriously jeopardize safety of the traveling public. These proposals are opposed by the American people and bipartisan majorities in both chambers.  While this proposal is better than in previous years, the committee will continue prioritizing safety.

As I mentioned during our meeting, I am pleased the Department has made the Portal North bridge eligible to advance toward funding, and I look forward to seeing that happen soon. However, neglecting to advance the Hudson tunnel project is a political decision that endangers the safety of travelers who pass through the tunnel every day. 

Our current infrastructure is in such desperate need of repair but preparing for the future must also mean ensuring continuity of service, sustaining safety, and increasing capacity. 

An unplanned closure of the Hudson tunnel would be disastrous for our economy and disrupt the lives of hundreds of thousands of daily commuters. 

In fact, closure of one of the two tubes in the existing tunnel – so, a partial shutdown – has been estimated to cost the national economy $16 billion. The bottom line is that while the Hudson tunnel project, and entire Gateway Program, is integral to New York and New Jersey, it’s so much more than that.  If we do not make the necessary investments in the Gateway Program today, our nation’s greatest economy and security will suffer.

While I look forward to a productive discussion today, this budget request does not reflect the good work I think we can do together.  Congress has consistently rejected the administration’s proposed cuts that would shortchange our national infrastructure, instead passing responsible funding levels.

Thank you again for being here today, and I look forward to your testimony.

116th Congress