Unlike the House version of the economic stimulus bill, the Senate version will include $2 billion for high-speed rail projects. Here’s the text:
“To make grants for high-speed rail projects under the provisions of section 26106 of title 49, United States Code, $2,000,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2011: Provided, That the Federal share payable of the costs for which a grant is made under this heading shall be 100 percent.”
The bill also provides funds for capital investments in transportation:
“For an additional amount for capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure, $5,500,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2011… That the Secretary of Transportation shall distribute funds provided under this heading as discretionary grants to be awarded to State and local governments on a competitive basis for projects that will have a significant impact on the Nation, a metropolitan area, or a region… That a grant funded under this heading shall be not less than $20,000,000 and not greater than $500,000,000…”
These funds can be used for highways, bridges, public transportation, New Starts and Small Starts projects, and rail projects. No such open-ended funds under the discretion of the Secretary of the Department of Transportation are provided in the House bill. The bill does not specify a preference for transit or highways and presumably Secretary Ray LaHood would decide if this provision makes it into the final bill.
Republicans in the House and Senate continue to spew nonsense about this bill not being a “real” stimulus bill and argue instead that it should be considered as an appropriations bill, to be considered and debated for months. Their solution, discredited as ever, consists of billions of dollars worth of tax cuts for big companies and the rich. They want to rid from the bill its provisions to help the poorest Americans get through this incredibly rough period and they’ve made no particularly strong call in favor of renewing the country’s distressed infrastructure – even voting against it last week.
Companies in the U.S. cut more than 100,000 jobs last week alone. Macy’s cut 7,000 jobs today. We need this stimulus bill as soon as possible.
EXTRA CREDIT: We have received news that Senator Chuck Schumer may not be submitting his $6.5 billion transit amendment after all, sacrificing it in favor of a much larger $20 to 30 billion infrastructure amendment being offered up by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Ben Nelson (D-NE), which will include a large transit component. We’ll see later tonight or tomorrow morning…