Thursday, April 30, 2015

Congress Tries to Breach Metro Obligations Again

The House Appropriations Committee has once again threatened to pull money the Federal Government promised for Metro.

Back in 2005, then-Congressmen Tom Davis, Frank Wolf and Jim Moran, began the push to secure $150 million per year for ten years from the federal government to fund infrastructure upgrades on Metro provided that such monies were matched dollar-for-dollar by Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.  In 2009, it came close to passing, and it was finally secured in the appropriations act for 2011 which was passed in 2010. 

Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia began budgeting to make their contributions and has met their obligation since this deal was struck.  Also, all three jurisdictions also changed the WMATA Compact to add another seat for the federal government in light of its contribution.  Now - Metro is on track to receive a $3 billion infusion over a ten year period.

However, after the change in party control of Congress, the new majority immediately started talking about revoking this promise.  In 2011, Congress attempted to remove this funding, but it was rebuffed by Congressman Connolly, Moran, Hoyer, Edwards, and D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Horton.  I spoke on the floor of the House of Delegates about this attack.  You can see my remarks on the right. 

This week, House Appropriators have once again opening their budget negotiations by trying to cut these monies

One would think after multiple deadly accidents due to failing infrastructure, clearly documented infrastructure problems, and a system that is bursting at the seams due to heavy use, Congress would see the need to continue funding this program.  Metro is a service, not just to our region, but to the entire country.  Without Metro, Washington, D.C.'s ceremonial core, inaugurations, and other public events would not be nearly as feasible. 

Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia have kept up their end of the bargain.  It's time for Congress to stop playing politics with the Metro system and honor its promises.

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