Esty Helps Secure Strong Amtrak Funding in FY 18 House Spending Bill
July 18, 2017
Also Hails Bipartisan Wins on Housing Assistance, Community Development Block Grants
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (CT-5), the Vice Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, today praised the advancement of legislation to provide the Amtrak National Network with $1.1 billion in funding in FY 2018.
In April, Reps. Esty, Seth Moulton (MA-6), and Louise Slaughter (NY-25) led a group of 81 members of Congress in writing to Appropriations Committee leaders to request a funding level of $1.1 billion for the Amtrak National Network in 2018.
“We cannot run a 21st-century economy on a crumbling 20th-century infrastructure,” Esty said. “These funding levels will enable Amtrak to make long-overdue upgrades and repairs, expand passenger rail service to underserved communities, and lay the groundwork for future high-speed rail. An investment in America’s rail systems is an investment in American jobs, safety, and the competitiveness of American-owned businesses. I’m glad the parties could come together to agree on a solution that serves the American people.”
The Amtrak funds were included in a government spending bill covering the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban development. The House Appropriations Committee approved the bill last night, setting up a House floor vote.
Esty, Moulton, and Slaughter also in April requested $515 million for the Amtrak Northeast Corridor, which is funded at $328 million under the legislation approved last night. To make up the difference, the bill increases the Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair program from $25 million to $500 million annually, which will help address the Northeast Corridor’s $38 billion maintenance backlog, and dedicates about $900 million to the Gateway Hudson River tunnel project.
For the Amtrak National Network, the Amtrak Northeast Corridor, and the State of Good Repair fund, the bill appropriates significantly more money than the budget level requested by President Trump.
Esty also praised the bill’s strong funding for housing programs including the Fair Housing Initiatives Program, the Fair Housing Assistance Program, Section 8 Rental Assistance, Section 4 Capacity Building, and Housing for Persons with AIDS. Esty wrote to House leaders requesting strong funding for each of these programs, and in each case, the bill includes significantly more funding than the amount requested by President Trump.
Finally, the bill includes $2.96 billion in funding for Community Development Block Grants (CDBGs), which fund a number of important initiatives for Connecticut seniors and low-income families, including Meals on Wheels. The President’s budget would have zeroed out the program.
“Food to eat and a roof over your head are not nice-to-have luxuries. These are basic necessities that people need to survive,” Esty said. “The President’s budget would take an axe to programs that senior citizens, folks with disabilities, and families throughout Connecticut depend on every single day. I’m heartened and relieved that Congress is working together to find a better path.”
Esty and colleagues wrote to House leaders requesting strong funding for the CDBG program. Esty also spent a morning in April delivering Meals on Wheels in Meriden to highlight the importance of the CDBG program.