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Chao Testifies Trump Personally Working To Block Funding For Major NY-NJ Transit Project

by Countable | Updated on 3.7.18

UPDATE March 7, 2018: Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao testified to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Tuesday that President Trump is personally intervening to block the funding of the Gateway Project -- a multi-tier project to upgrade the Hudson Tunnel and NY-NJ mass transit system.

$900 million in federal contribution was included in the omnibus spending bill that Congress will have to approve to fund the government in a matter of weeks. The Washington Post reports the president called Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) personally Friday to ask that it be removed.

Chao testified that the president's request is based on the belief that the states directly involved should cover more of the costs, which were proposed to be split 50-50 in a handshake agreement between state leaders and the previous administration.

Opponents maintain Trump's actions are retaliatory, part of an ongoing power struggle between the president and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

Despite the president's efforts, at this stage in the formulation of the bill it may not be possible to remove the project's funding without unraveling the entire package, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on transportation, told the Post.

Countable's original post is below.


What’s the story?

Back in 2015 the Obama administration brokered a deal with a bipartisan group of state leaders from New York and New Jersey to split the costs of repairs and upgrades to the Hudson Tunnel portion of the mass transit system. The New York to New Jersey commuter route moves tens of thousands of people in and out of the city daily.

The plan would have split the costs of adding an additional tunnel and upgrading the single existing tunnel 50-50 between the federal government and state and local authorities, which is inconsistent with the current administration’s plans to have infrastructure projects largely funded by state and local governments. The administration sent a letter to New York and New Jersey officials late Friday referring to the 2015 agreement as "non-existent" reports NJ.com.

In the letter from Federal Transit Administrator (FTA) K. Jane Williams to New York’s Division of Budget, Williams referred to the project as an exclusively "local" one. Advocates for the federal significance of the NYC economy, however, point to the fact that the city accounts for 9% of the country’s entire gross domestic product.

Crain’s New York suggests that the revoking of the federal commitment to the 2015 agreement is part of the Trump administration’s plans to roll out a $1 trillion dollar infrastructure plan in 2018. By rolling in some funding commitment to the project as part of that plan, at a vast reduced percentage of federal contribution, the administration may be able to encourage Democratic support.

In Williams’ letter she references upcoming congressional discussions of the administration’s infrastructure plan, and promises to find "paths that would enable" the project. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who participated in the 2015 agreement, remains optimistic about federal funding given that President Trump hails from NYC:

"We are confident that, as the White House advances an infrastructure proposal this year, federal funding for the most important transportation project in the United States will be addressed."

What do you think?

Should the administration follow through on the 2015 agreement or not? Should improving infrastructure in the Northeast corridor be a federal priority, given the region’s contribution to the national economy? What percentage of major infrastructure project costs should state and local authorities be responsible for?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Wikimedia / Creative Commons)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(61)
  • Linda
    01/03/2018
    ···

    Any action by Obama administration gets cut, revoked, repealed, XO’d no matter the benefit. This petty, vindictive approach is detrimental to people & the nation. Our elected officials are behaving in an unprofessional manner. In 2018, Congress needs to retain it Checks and Balances. We need to vote for democrats. We also need to retire some of these career politicians by not voting for their re-election.

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  • Gerald
    01/03/2018
    ···

    A deal is only as strong as the integrity of those who enter into it. Obviously NY and NJ should have realized the US government that broke the world climate accord and the Iranian nuclear deals on a whim would never keep an agreement with two blue states. How you like the new tax bill NY and NJ? Vote for Trump next time, beg his majesty for the money he promised, and sing his praises endlessly and you might see some dollars. Look for swing states to get the “infrastructure” projects.

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  • Donna
    01/03/2018
    ···

    This agreement was secured during the Obama administration therefore it has to go, regardless of the benefit or details. The new agreement will not only cost these two states more money but the work will probably have to involve a crony of DJT or someone in his cabinet. Isn't that going to be the basis of the still non-existent infrastructure plan? The Feds kick in 5%, the states are held responsible for the rest, the government claims it is creating thousands of jobs and all the work is given to someone with connections in a no-bid contract. After all, this is no longer a government working for the people. It is a government working for DJT, the corrupt cabinet members our corrupt Congress approved and all their cronies. Thanks. I am sure the commuters from NJ appreciate the support.

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  • John
    03/07/2018
    ···

    Stick to the agreement. 45 thinks that in his role as Il Douche he can do whatever his pea brain wants. Just because President Obama proposed something doesn’t give 45 the right to kill it. And yes, I meant to spell Il Douche that way.

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  • Robert
    03/07/2018
    ···

    When are our representatives in Congress going to stand up to the lunacy of this administration, this president and his family are doing everything they can to capitalize on president Trump‘s office. How can you stand by and let trump and his family rob this country blind. You will be the next guest on his reality TV show and the people say you’re fired.

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  • Joanne
    03/07/2018
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    This project has Obama’s name it, trump doesn’t like the liberal blue New York and New Jersey and it was agreed on by handshake. This was doomed before it got started. trump and GOP are vengeful and untrustworthy. VOTE

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  • BeStrong
    01/03/2018
    ···

    We are not surprised that this administration has opted out of supporting funding for this main artery connecting these states. These are solid blue states and this punishing behavior is what we have come to expect from this new form of governing. #Infrastructure? #Vote2018 #Vote2020

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  • Dara
    01/04/2018
    ···

    I don’t live in either of those states so this doesn’t directly have any bearing on me. However, if an agreement was reached it should be honored. This “backsy” stuff needs to stop. Honor your agreements.

    Like (9)
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  • SirRobert
    01/04/2018
    ···

    In the two highest revenue producing and tax burdened states that are connected by 1 one-hundred year old train tunnel that is used by millions to commute to and from work you are going to pull the funding? It seems to be a huge, even BIGLY risk to a major part of the United States economy.

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  • BeStrong
    03/07/2018
    ···

    Governing by vindictiveness cannot be permitted. Mr Trump, when you’re citizen Trump again, you can retaliate all day long against your ‘imagined enemies’ but you cannot do this while President. Sir, your insecurity is showing.

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  • Eric
    03/07/2018
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    Hey, Trump you're not King. Try doing your job and stop golfing.

    Like (6)
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  • I.Got.an.Idea...
    01/03/2018
    ···

    The state DOTs and the Federal Transportation Agency, as well as Federal, State and Local Economic Development entities likely have all of the data available to make an appropriate, ethical decision on how to share the costs of this proposed project. I would assume that the majority of trips generated on this segment of thoroughfare, are daily commuters to work, which that portion of cost should probably be shared between the states. The rest then, could be picked up by the Federal Transportation funds and an additional portion could provided from the proposed National Infrastructure improvements funds.

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  • RadicalModerate
    03/08/2018
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    Wow. Trump is playing dirty. Big surprise. He’s as corrupt as it gets.

    Like (5)
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  • Isabel
    01/05/2018
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    Trump has dismantled many important regulations & bills. He’s not mentally capable of understanding so many things. Trump only cares about trump & his ego. He doesn’t care about this country or it’s people. He’s a fraud

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  • Countryfirst
    03/08/2018
    ···

    Congress needs to act while we still have a country to save..IMPEACH THIS ORANGE HAIRED BIGOTED MORON NOW!!!!! I'M SICK OF OUR GOVERNMENT SAYING HEIL TRUMP!!!!! IMPEACH #45 NOW!!!

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  • S
    01/03/2018
    ···

    Trump declares this agreement doesn’t exist, because it came about under Obama admin. Trump will use this nonexistent agreement to create one that is identical and crow about how he keeps his election promises and he is a better engineer than the greatest engineers in history.

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  • IllWill
    03/08/2018
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    Congress just needs to by-pass the moron sitting in the White House and approve the funding anyway. Trump apparently thinks he’s the King of this country and not the President. The NY-NJ transit system shouldn’t suffer because the dictatorial tendencies of this administration.

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  • Jann
    03/08/2018
    ···

    This dotard and the rest f these ignorant people are systematically taking down America for their own UNCONSCIOS SINISTER AND EVIL beliefs. What will it take to remove them from office? Really????

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  • Jonathan
    03/08/2018
    ···

    To those asking when will congress stand up to the lunatic presidency/administration I have the answer for you. They never will. They never will as long as they have their power unchecked. Trump admin won't keep checking on them so they reign free, and the same goes for trump admin. Everything is about power, money, and party.

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  • Dayzee
    03/07/2018
    ···

    Anyone surprised? We are a banana republic with a spiteful, vindictive, malicious, selfish, jealous man baby holding the reins of the once meant to level & balance the world. We're fooked. Unless congress finds their backbone and actually does the job of containing a corrupt Pres, exec branch & admin. This whole thing sucks. Can't happen here? It's happening. Biggest mistake in the history of this country was electing a known con man and crook to spite fellow countrymen. Nose, meet knife.

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