Congressman Sires Applauds the House Passing Transportation Funding Bill that Includes New Jersey Priorities
(Washington, D.C.) – Yesterday, Representative Albio Sires (D-NJ) issued the following statement regarding the House of Representatives passing an appropriations bill that will help transportation and infrastructure issues in New Jersey:
“Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3055, a government funding bill that includes appropriations for the Department of Transportation and its related agencies. Thanks to the work done by myself and my colleagues from the region, H.R. 3055 included provisions that help our state, which can now benefit from new policies and additional infrastructure funding.
“At our request, the bill includes robust funding for the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant program, which assists large infrastructure projects like Gateway; and more funding for Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair grants which helps funds projects to repair, replace, or upgrade intercity passenger rail assets. These are grants that the Gateway Project can draw from once it is approved for federal financial assistance by the government.
“I am also pleased that the appropriations bill includes language I pushed for that will specifically help move public transit projects like the Gateway Project forward. In April, I led a letter from members of the New Jersey and New York delegation to the Appropriations Committee urging that it include language in the appropriation bill’s accompanying report stressing that BUILD grants be distributed equitably and fairly to public transportation funding. This language was included in the final version of the bill.
“The final bill also includes language that removes an administrative roadblock specific to the Gateway Project. The roadblock deals with the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan program. Current law is just ambiguous enough that it allows the Trump Administration to insist that TIFIA loans must be counted as part of the government’s investment in an infrastructure project, even if project sponsors repay the loans with non-federal money. This logic has been used to pick and choose which projects count as being “over-reliant” on federal assistance, in spite of the fact that project sponsors must prove creditworthiness to even qualify for TIFIA loans.
“In May, I led a letter signed by New Jersey and New York members on the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee to the Appropriations Committee, asking that they include language in the final funding bill clarifying that TIFIA loans count as the non-federal share of project costs if the loans are paid back with non-federal money. The final bill includes the clarifying language we asked for, which protects the Gateway Project from being further delayed by these administrative roadblocks.
“I am excited to continue building on the framework we have laid in this appropriations bill. I believe it is a step in the right direction to helping New Jersey overcome some of the major infrastructure obstacles that are facing our region, and I would like to thank all of my colleagues who assisted in getting these important measures into this legislation.”
The House passed H.R. 3055 by a vote of 227 to 194, and the bill is now awaiting review in the Senate.