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Federal Transportation Bill

New York Republicans Join Nadler, Defect From House Attack on Transit

1:15 PM EST on February 13, 2012

An amendment sponsored by Rep. Jerry Nadler, above would restore dedicated federal funding for mass transit. Four New York Republicans have signed on to the amendment. Photo via Daily Beast.

Northeastern Republicans, especially those from transit-rich New York, continue to turn against the House leadership's unprecedented attack on transit. An amendment by Manhattan Democrat Jerry Nadler, which would head off the attempt to stop gas tax revenues from going to transit, is attracting significant support from area Republicans.

The House GOP bill, drafted with significant input from Speaker John Boehner's office, would eliminate mass transit's dedicated funding stream, first signed into law by Ronald Reagan in 1982. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a former House Republican, has called it "the worst transportation bill I’ve ever seen during 35 years of public service." Joe Lhota, the head of the MTA and himself a Republican, said it was "the worst piece of legislation you could ever imagine."

Some congressional Republicans, especially those who represent transit riders, agree that de-funding transit would be unacceptable. The Nadler amendment has bipartisan support from six Democrats and six Republicans. The GOP side includes New York's Chris Gibson, Bob Turner, Michael Grimm and Nan Hayworth, as well as Ohio's Steve LaTourette and Pennsylvania's Mike Fitzpatrick.

Turner, who represents an urban district where almost half of all commuters take transit to work, will not vote for the transportation bill in its current form, nor will LaTourette. Though not a sponsor of Nadler's amendment, Long Island rep Peter King has also spoken out against the bill's anti-transit provisions and is currently expected to vote against the bill.

For the other Republicans, though, it's not clear whether the attack on transit is a dealbreaker. Hayworth, for example, made it clear in a statement to Streetsblog that her district needs a strong and well-funded transit system, but didn't commit to a particular course of action on the transportation bill.

"I am concerned about the way in which the transportation bill that is developing within the House of Representatives may affect mass transit and infrastructure in New York. Adequately funding improvements to the Metro-North Railroad and replacing the aging Tappan Zee Bridge are critical priorities for the Hudson Valley," she said. "As the bill advances, I will continue working with my colleagues both in Congress and the Hudson Valley to ensure that our mass transit and infrastructure needs are supported as fully as possible."

Gibson and Grimm's offices have not responded to Streetsblog inquiries about the transportation bill.

New York's editorial boards have widely opposed the bill. The New York Times, the New York Daily News, and the Newark Star-Ledger have all editorialized against the House transportation bill. This weekend, Newsday joined the fray, calling the bill "catastrophic for our region."

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