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Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. CULBERSON. Madam Chairman, I want to be sure to point out to the House that the account is authorized. Under the Passenger Rail Improvement Act, in order for the metropolitan D.C. area to receive the funds, Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia have to match the money, which certainly helps. And I also note that the committee has included language, which is very important, that the Federal Government cannot provide more than 60 percent for the first time. That's important that the local communities do their fair share.

All of the money in the Passenger Rail Improvement Act for the D.C. area has to be used for safety and capital improvements only. They can use the money only to buy new cars and equipment to improve the safety of the system. And as my good friend from New Jersey has pointed out, if there's clearly evidence, apparently, of misuse of the funds, the inspector general can certainly investigate that and even bring criminal charges against those responsible for using the funds for a purpose other than that authorized by the Passenger Rail Improvement Act.

I think it's also important to point out that the bill, overall, cuts New Starts funding by $419 million and cuts the request for administrative funding for the FTA by $66 million.

These bills that Chairman Rogers has presided over that all of us on Appropriations have worked so hard on, for the first time we've got a whole series of bills reducing spending year after year. There's much, much more to do. And while I'm certainly in philosophical agreement with the gentleman's amendment, because of the careful balance the bill strikes in funding an authorized program, it can only be used for a limited purpose that must be matched, and the committee would like to ask for a ``no'' vote on the gentleman's amendment.

Mr. GARRETT. Will the gentleman yield?

Mr. CULBERSON. I am happy to yield to my good friend from New Jersey.

Mr. GARRETT. I will just make three quick points. One is, again, it is really odd that here I stand with you next to the microphone and that I am actually defending the more conservative position and actually defending the position of the President of the United States, who says we should be spending less money.

Secondly, in a time when we all said, Let's eliminate earmarks, here we have, as Heritage says, the largest earmark in American history. Because this is not simply an issue of saying that this program has a safety need and no one else does. If it wasn't a grant application process where New York, New Jersey, or any other system around the country could have applied and say, Our safety needs are X times high or less than Washington, D.C., maybe there wouldn't be a concern. But that's not the case here.

All the other metropolitan transit systems in the country aren't being weighed as far as what their safety needs or what their maintenance needs are. It just simply made a decision here that Washington, D.C., and the congressional districts that it contains around it somehow or another merit greater service than do the other ones in Chicago or New York or New Jersey, what have you. I think that's where the difficulty lies.

Mr. CULBERSON. If I could reclaim my time, the gentleman and I worked together arm-in-arm on so many good conservative causes, and in this one area we do have a slight disagreement. I would point out that the statute requires that the metropolitan Washington transit entity has to submit a grant application. Under the law, they can't just automatically access these funds. They have to submit a grant application that complies with all the Federal Transit Administration's requirements. They have to demonstrate that the money will be used for the narrow purposes authorized by the act for safety and capital improvements, and they must comply with all of the other requirements that every other transit entity in the Nation complies with.

For all those reasons, to keep the careful balance the committee has struck, the overall reduction in funding, the committee would ask for a ``no'' vote on this amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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