Last night on Capitol Hill, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) offered an amendment to the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill for fiscal year (FY) 2013, which would have restored $500 million for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program, which creates jobs by funding investments in transportation infrastructure.
"TIGER could finance a wide variety of innovative highway, bridge and transit projects in urban and rural communities across the country, provided there is sufficient funding," said Congresswoman Waters during debate on the floor of the House of Representatives. "One such project is the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor in Los Angeles County, a light rail project that will run through my district. TIGER grants could be used to finance stations along this corridor in the communities of Leimert Park and Westchester, thereby ensuring that these communities have access to light rail."
Congresswoman Waters' amendment was cosponsored by Reps. Betty McCollum, Barbara Lee, Emanuel Cleaver, Karen Bass, Laura Richardson, Bobby L. Rush, and Doris Matsui. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, spoke in favor of the amendment, as did Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee.
"The American Society of Civil Engineers' 2009 Report Card for America's Infrastructure estimated that there is a $549.5 billion shortfall in investments in roads and bridges and an additional $190.1 billion shortfall in investments in transit," said Congresswoman Waters. "So I would urge my colleagues to support the TIGER amendment, invest in our crumbling infrastructure, and create good jobs in communities across the United States."
Rep. Tom Latham, the Republican Chairman of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, raised a point of order against Congresswoman Waters' amendment on technical grounds, and the amendment was ruled out of order.
"I urge my Republican colleagues to reconsider their actions and support the TIGER program," said Congresswoman Waters, after her amendment was rejected. "American workers need jobs, and TIGER creates jobs by rebuilding roads, bridges and public transit facilities across the United States."
TIGER received an appropriation of $500 million in FY 2012, and the President requested $500 million for the program in FY 2013. However, the Republican-led House Appropriations Committee did not include any funding for TIGER in their version of the THUD funding bill. Consideration of THUD continues today on the floor of the House of Representatives.
Last week, Congresswoman Waters introduced H.R. 5976, the TIGER Grants for Job Creation Act, which would provide an emergency supplemental appropriation of $1 billion over the next two years for the TIGER program. The bill is cosponsored by 48 of the Congresswoman's colleagues, including several members of the House Appropriations Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.