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

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. MCCOLLUM. Mr. Chair, I rise today in opposition to H.R. 5972, the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2013. This legislation underfunds needed investments in America's transportation system and seriously undercuts needed public housing programs, a vital part of our country's safety net.

The House Republican's ``highways only'' mentality is revealed in H.R. 5972, which significantly cuts funding for transit and, once again, eliminates all funding for high speed rail. Communities in the East Metro are working hard to advance new transit corridors in our region including Gateway, Robert Street, Rush Line, Riverview and Red Rock. The Republicans' proposed cuts to federal matching-funds would stop most of these projects in their tracks, resulting in the loss of thousands of construction jobs and billions of dollars in new economic development. Eliminating high-speed rail funding risks losing a new high speed link between Chicago and the Twin Cities at St. Paul's Union Depot.

In addition, I am concerned with the House Republicans' refusal to fund the TIGER Discretionary Grant program. This program helps states and local governments construct major infrastructure projects. It is hugely popular across the country and has helped to transform communities since it was first established in the 2009 Recovery Act. A $35 million TIGER grant is helping restore the historic Union Depot in Lowertown St. Paul into a modern, multi-modal transportation hub. This project alone has created 3,000 jobs and opens to the public this fall. In addition, the City of St. Paul received a TIGER planning grant to better integrate biking and walking into the local transportation system. Last year, Minneapolis received a $10 million TIGER grant to construct the new Interchange station near Target Field. The TIGER program is vitally important to modernizing our region's infrastructure. That is why I offered an amendment to H.R. 5972 with Congresswoman MAXINE WATERS of California to restore the TIGER program to the bill. Unfortunately, my Republican colleagues rejected this $500 million investment in American infrastructure and jobs. Overall, the transportation provisions of this bill ignore the needs of the communities I represent. H.R. 5972 would cost my community thousands of jobs and reverse years of work by business, government and citizen-leaders in my District to build new and needed infrastructure.

H.R. 5972 also seriously underfunds critical housing programs that provide shelter for our country's most vulnerable, including low-income families, seniors and the disabled. The inadequate funding in this bill for Project Based Section 8 vouchers could jeopardize housing for 3,000 families in my District. The cuts to McKinney-Vento Homelessness Grants would eliminate beds for homeless individuals and families in Minnesota. These cuts have real, human costs. Fewer people will find a warm, safe place to sleep. Fewer people will be able to overcome the most difficult times in their lives and get back on their feet. In my district there is a young man, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, who is struggling with profound PTSD and now facing homelessness. The instability of homelessness makes it much harder for him to get the treatment he needs and begin the process of recovery. This young man pledged his life to his country when we needed him. Now, he needs us.

This bill does not represent my priorities or the priorities of the Minnesotans I am proud to represent.

I urge my colleagues to oppose H.R. 5972.

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