Chao: Trump wants to stop funding for $13B Hudson River tunnel project
- Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said in testimony before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee this week that President Donald Trump has taken action to scuttle the $13 billion Hudson River tunnel project and asked House Speaker Paul Ryan to block funding for it, according to the Associated Press.
- Chao defended the administration's actions by saying that New York and New Jersey needed to chip in more money for the project in the interest of fairness, and that federal funding of the tunnel and the overall $24 billion to $30 billion Gateway program, according to The Hill, would take away funds from other U.S. transportation projects.
- Some lawmakers contend that Trump's withdrawal of support for the tunnel is part of a personal attack on Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York. The House approved $900 million for the project thus far.
When President Trump unveiled his $1.5 trillion infrastructure program earlier this year, he drew a line between regional projects and those with national significance, and said states and local governments should be prepared to come up with the lion's share of funding for infrastructure construction in their backyards. He has recently cast the Hudson River tunnel as a regional initiative. But, before the president was sworn into office, his team came up with a list of 50 emergency and national security projects, and the Gateway program was No. 1.
In addition, both the governors of New York and New Jersey have said their states, along with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, will pay for half of the project under an agreement they struck with the Obama administration. The Trump administration denies the existence of such a deal, which would also have the federal government pay for the other half. The project is deemed critical because saltwater damage from 2012's Superstorm Sandy has pushed the tunnel equipment and structure toward the end of its useful life.
Senate Democrats announced their infrastructure plan Wednesday, a $1 trillion program that would see $140 billion spent on road and bridge repairs, $115 billion on new water and sewer infrastructure, $50 billion on school construction, and $40 billion on airport-related projects, according to CNN. The way they propose to pay for the plan, however, is to roll back tax reform laws passed at the end of last year, which will likely prove to be very difficult.
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