Larsen: Transportation Spending Bill Fails To Invest In Roads, Bridges, Rail Safety

Spending Bill Also Cuts Vouchers For Veterans Experiencing Homelessness

WASHINGTON, D.C. – June 10, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, today announced he will not support a 2016 spending bill that severely underfunds transportation infrastructure. The FY2016 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill (H.R. 2577) fails to make needed investments in roads, bridges, highways and transit, hampering job creation and economic growth. The bill also provides no funding for the Housing and Urban Development Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program, which helps veterans experiencing homelessness. The House is set to vote on the bill as soon as tonight.

“Investing in our roads, bridges, highways and transit systems is the best way I know to create jobs and keep our economy moving. But the 2016 transportation funding bill fails to invest in the repairs and upgrades that our transportation system and our economy badly need.

“The bill cuts opportunities for communities to fund new transportation projects through TIGER grants, while ignoring the small and mid-sized cities my TIGER CUBS bill would support.

“Congress also must do more to invest in our bridges in the Northwest, which is another failure of this bill. The collapse of the Skagit River bridge on I-5 should be a wakeup call that we cannot delay investments in this critical part of our infrastructure. Our country should maintain our bridges until they are old, then replace them. I have previously introduced legislation to make large investments in bridge improvements nationwide, and I plan to reintroduce that legislation soon.

“I have long been pushing to improve the safety of communities near rail lines carrying crude oil, and this bill falls short here too. Congress should put money behind the new federal safety rules, as well as addressing other safety gaps like improved at-grade rail crossings where rail incidents are mostly likely to occur and where rail lines have the highest impact on car traffic. I am working to bring more attention to this issue. I plan to introduce legislation to put more funding toward rail crossings, and get the Federal Railroad Administration more involved in planning and constructing crossings.

“I am also deeply disappointed this bill does not provide funding for the HUD-VASH program to help veterans facing homelessness. Housing vouchers have helped many veterans in my district get permanent housing and on the path to independence. Cutting this program is an unacceptable way to treat veterans struggling with homelessness,” Larsen said.

Provisions of note from the bill are below.

Transportation

Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grants funded at $100 million, which is $400 million less than FY 2015 and $1.15 billion less than the President’s request.
Cuts funding for the Federal Aviation Administration’s NextGen modernization program by $100 million.
Cuts Amtrak’s funding by $251 million and includes none of the $825 million requested by the President for Positive Train Control.
Cuts $262 million from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) budget. FRA is responsible for rail safety and inspections.
Housing

No funding for the Housing and Urban Development Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program. The bill allows HUD to take money from the Housing Trust to fund the program, but provides no direct funding, as it has in the past. The HUD-VASH program provides housing and supportive services for homeless and struggling veterans. This funding has gone to veterans in Snohomish, Skagit and Island counties in recent years.

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