Nadler Supports Transportation Bill

image by Grace O'Malley

The following is a press release from the office of Rep. Jerrold Nadler:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the senior Northeastern Member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, spoke in support of H.R. 2112, the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011, which directs funding toward transportation, housing, and various social service programs.

He issued the following statement:

“While the conference report is far from perfect, I truly believe that it is the best we are going to do in the current economic climate.  As Republicans continue to throw logic to the wind, voting NO on this proposal would only cause further harm to the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society, who are already suffering though this recession.

“I am relieved that the bill essentially maintains the current funding levels for highways and transit, rather than imposing the drastic cuts in the House version of the bill as outlined in the Ryan Budget.  Although I firmly believe that we need to drastically increase transportation spending as part of a larger economic recovery and jobs package, I am glad that this appropriations bill provides enough transit New Starts funding to honor the federal commitment to the Second Avenue Subway and East Side Access projects.  The bill also includes $500 million for TIGER grants, which will fund important rail and port projects that are not always included in traditional transportation programs.

“I am, however, concerned that there is no funding for High Speed Rail.  Previous High Speed Rail funds have been used to make improvements on the Northeast Corridor and on the Empire Corridor in New York, which are long overdue.  For too long, we have been over-dependent on cars and planes.  High Speed Rail should be an option between any cities within a 500 mile radius, providing competitive trip times and fares, freeing up airspace, and benefiting our environment, economy, and national security.  It makes no sense to abandon our efforts to develop High Speed Rail in this country, so I hope that Republicans abandon their efforts to kill it.

“In many ways, the conference report treats the Housing and Urban Development provisions better than either the House or Senate bills.  Thankfully, the New York City delegation was successful in fighting back a punitive provision that House Republicans sought regarding twenty-one recently federalized developments in the City.  That provision, which would have penalized Public Housing Authorities for taking advantage of a measure in the Recovery Act, was not part of the final package.

“I am also happy to see that the funding allocation for Section 8 housing voucher renewals is substantial enough to ensure that no one currently in the program will be kicked out due to budget cuts.  In these dark economic times, this is a clear victory.  However, we know that simply maintaining current vouchers does not meet the growing need for safe, affordable housing, and I will continue to fight for this important program.

“Unfortunately, not every housing provision in the conference report was a victory.  The conference report makes cuts to the public housing Capital Fund, which supports modernization and improvements, and the Operating Fund, which provides operation and maintenance.  Additionally, the pool of funding for administrative fees shrank, providing Public Housing Authorities around the country with less than 80% of what they are eligible for to run these crucial programs.

“These cuts will have significant effects on PHAs, providing less than half of the $3.4 billion in new repair and renovation needs that accumulate in public housing each year.  Further, this funding level does little to address the program’s estimated $26 billion backlog of unmet repair and renovation needs.
“For the New York City Housing Authority, the loss of additional funds forces the administration to do even more with even less.  NYCHA’s affordable housing stock is aging and in desperate need of infrastructure improvements.  Years of underfunding at all levels of government and the sheer volume of repairs required in buildings over 50-years-old mean NYCHA’s public housing is quickly falling into disrepair.

“As I have said time and time again, this is not a time to ask those with the least to sacrifice the most.  New York City and cities across the country are facing a shortage of affordable housing.  It is simply immoral to balance the budget on the backs of low-income families.  We know that maintaining existing public housing and other subsidized housing is generally more cost-effective than building new developments.  But, due to the growing demand for affordable housing, we must also continue to support the financing of new developments.

“After House Republicans sought to slash billions of dollars from various food programs, the conference report also made important increases in the SNAP, child nutrition, and WIC programs.  These programs provide food to millions of America’s children who would otherwise go hungry without this support.  Yet, it is frustrating that the report delayed implementation of important anti-obesity changes to the school lunch program.

“And, I was very disappointed to see that, once again, the Community Development Block Grant was cut, this time by almost $200 million.  This grant program provides money to urban areas, like New York City, to provide housing and economic opportunities for low- and moderate-income people.

“But, again, while the report is certainly not perfect, it continues to provide essential funding for our transportation and housing programs – funding which enhances our economic productivity, improves quality of life, and protects the most vulnerable among us.”

U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler represents New York’s 8th Congressional District, which includes Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, SoHo, Greenwich Village, TriBeCa, the Financial District and Battery Park City. In Brooklyn, the 8th District includes parts of Borough Park, Red Hook, Sunset Park, Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Gravesend, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach and Seagate.

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