Jaime Herrera Beutler announced that the U.S. House Appropriations Committee introduced legislation today that would keep federal transit funding from going to projects like the Columbia River Crossing that had not met critical permit and funding requirements.
As a Member of the U.S. House Appropriations subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (T-HUD), Jaime helped craft the fiscal year 2014 T-HUD Appropriations bill. The legislation keeps in place the criteria of the New Starts grant program that provides federal transit money for transportation projects, which includes:
- A project must have its operations & maintenance funding in place;
- A project must have the local funding match in place;
- All necessary permits must be granted.
The CRC does not meet these criteria. Meanwhile, 17 other projects around the nation are already permitted, locally funded, and stand ahead of the CRC in line for New Starts funding. Members of the T-HUD subcommittee are expected to approve the bill on Wednesday.
"The existing law is clear -- in order to obtain a transit grant, project sponsors need to have funding in place to pay for operation and maintenance of light rail. Last November, Clark County residents rejected light rail when they overwhelmingly voted not to pay for it, and I pledged to act in accordance with their wishes," said Jaime. "Clark County voters know that ultimately they will pay more of the cost of this project than any other group of taxpayers, and we should respect their wishes when it comes to light rail.
"Project advocates continue to state that the main priority for the CRC is safety," Jaime continued. "If that's really what they believe, then they should have no problem taking the divisive, controversial, and local light rail portion off the table. Let's concentrate on building a bridge that can safely and efficiently move people, goods and services and can actually earn the support of the taxpayers and commuters who will pay for it."