Congress may ride to the rescue to save $75M in transit funds for N.J. commuters

Posted Oct 31, 2019

WASHINGTON — New Jersey could lose $75 million in federal transit funds, and Congress is working to try to prevent that.

Both the House and Senate transportation spending bills for the current fiscal year would forestall the reductions, but Congress still needs to reconcile the two versions and send final legislation to President Donald Trump for his signature.

Lawmakers needed to act because federal gasoline tax collections, which fund the transit account, are falling below projected levels, requiring automatic cuts in spending unless Congress acts. Congress also has sent money to the account that funds highway construction for the same reason.

Both transportation bills also include increased funding for Amtrak and other accounts to be used for the Gateway Tunnel project.

President Donald Trump has opposed funding a new tunnel under the Hudson River and a replacement Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River. Congress has gotten around his threats to shut down the government over the issue by increasing money in accounts to be used to fund Gateway without specifically allocating money for the project.

“Once again, we secured millions in additional funding in the transportation appropriations bill for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor and to keep Gateway moving forward, despite the Trump Administration’s continued efforts to derail the single most important infrastructure project in the nation,” said U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., the top Democrat on the Senate Banking subcommittee that oversees mass transit.

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