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Schumer Pushes Mass Transit in the Senate

February 2, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Boosting funding for mass transit in the economic stimulus package has been one of the main goals for a lot of progressives that have been following the issue.

When House Transportation Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar’s released his original transportation funding proposal, he recommended spending at least $17 billion on mass transit in the stimulus. But when the official House version of the bill was released, it only contained $9 billion in mass-transit funds. The Senate’s version contained even less – about $8.5 billion.

During the House’s debate of the stimulus bill last week, a group of Democrats, led by Rep. Jerrold Nadler [D, NY-8] managed to win a floor amendment that boosted transit spending by $3 billion. Today, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced that he’ll be pushing a similar (but larger) amendment in the Senate:

>Schumer’s amendment would boost funding in the Senate version of the stimulus package by $6.5 billion, from $8.4 billion currently in the bill to $14.9 billion. Specifically, Schumer’s amendment would increase funding in the transit capital pot from $8.4 billion to 10.4 billion, add $2 billion for rail modifications, and $2.5 billion for New Starts. The last two funding increases would match funding in the House bill.
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>Schumer and Nadler said the capital pot must grow to reflect out-of-control capital costs for transit systems, “rail mod” is important for aging rail systems, of which New York has many and more money for New Starts is important to projects like East Side Access and 2nd Ave subway, as well as NJ ARC.

Will it pass? I’m guessing it will. Increasing infrastructure spending in the stimulus is one of the main areas where there seems to be some bipartisan agreement. This is a subset of infrastructure spending that will make it easier and more attractive for people to use cleaner forms of transportation. I imagine there are at least two Senate Republicans who will want to get behind that.

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