Yesterday, U.S. Rep. Michael A. Arcuri (NY-24) led debate and voted in support of fiscally responsible legislation to fund federal transportation and housing programs next year. The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act of 2011 (H.R. 5850) provides critical funding for everything from roads, bridges and railroads, to housing for veterans and low-income families. Before passage, Arcuri supported the addition of several amendments, including one he authored himself, which cut more than $238 million in extraneous spending from the bill.
"During these tough economic times, American families have been forced to cut back and be more responsible with the way they spend their money, the federal government shouldn't be any different," said Arcuri. "This bill succeeds in making the critical transportation and housing investments that will translate in to new jobs and economic development, while cutting spending for lower-priority programs."
Overall, the bill is $738 million below the 2010 level and $1.5 billion below the President's budget. Investments in the bill will create more than 160,000 new jobs. For example, the bill's additional investment of more than $4 billion above 2010 for the Federal Highway Administration will create more than 142,000 new jobs in highway construction. Similarly, the bill's additional investment of $500 million above 2010 for public transit will create an estimated 20,000 new jobs.
The legislation will address the challenges of keeping our transportation system safe, secure and up-to-date. To increase Americans' use of public transportation and help wean us off of our addiction to foreign oil, we invest in the next generation of high-speed passenger rail and new commuter rail and light rail systems.
Arcuri's amendment, which passed by voice vote, reduced funding for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Office of Policy Development and Research by nearly $3 million, a 2.5 percent decrease from the amount currently appropriated for FY-2010. The Office of Policy and Research performs policy analysis, research, surveys, studies and evaluations on housing needs, market conditions, and HUD programs. Arcuri also supported 10 additional amendments which cut a total of $238,478,450 from the bill, a 3.5 percent decrease in spending.
Arcuri added, "My goal isn't to eliminate all funding for the Office or to hinder its important functions, but to simply ask them to tighten their budget and stretch a dollar a little further. The American people understand we can't go at programs and departments with a hatchet to find the trillions needed to pay down our deficit. But what we can do, and should be expected to do, is take a closer look at every dollar we plan to spend to make sure it is being used in the best possible way."
Arcuri has continually fought to cut federal spending and restore fiscal discipline to Washington. Most recently, Arcuri successfully blocked a $1,600 pay raise for Members of Congress next year and has worked to end the automatic pay raise each year since taking office. Last year, Arcuri cosponsored the Stop the Congressional Pay Raise Act for FY 2010 and voted to successfully block the FY 2010 pay raise saving taxpayers approximately $2.5 million.
Arcuri has also introduced the Congressional Belt Tightening Act which would cut salaries for Members of Congress and their office budgets by 5 percent next year, Arcuri led by example and voluntarily cut his own office's budget by 8 percent, returning over $120,000 to the U.S. Treasury in 2009 for Federal budget deficit reduction.
Additionally this year, Arcuri sent a letter calling on President Obama to put a freeze on all non-defense discretionary funding in the President's FY 2011 budget proposal to Congress, and led debate and voted for "Pay-Go" legislation, which was signed into law by the President in February, that requires Congress and the President to account for increases in federal spending by requiring offsets or ways to generate needed revenue.
Click here to watch Arcuri give his opening remarks as he manages debate on the rule for the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act of 2011 (H.R. 5850) on the House Floor yesterday.