Reps. Johnson, Garcia Call for Robust Investments in Public Transit & Pathway to Funding Parity in Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework

July 27, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As negotiations on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework and the reconciliation package continue, Congressmen Hank Johnson (GA-04) and Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04), both members of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, led 60 colleagues in sending a letter to President Joe Biden and congressional leadership today insisting on a final bill that addresses the climate crisis and existing racial inequities by robustly funding public transportation.

The letter calls the current allocation of only 20 percent of funds for public transit grossly inadequate given the scale of the crisis this country faces. Instead, the co-signers say the Senate must adopt the more robust funding for transit passed in the House’s INVEST in America Act while providing a pathway to funding parity between transit and highways in a future reconciliation package.

“Spending a disproportionate amount of our transportation and infrastructure dollars on highways and roads doesn’t make any sense in the 21st century – a century that’s been plagued by the wildly worsening effects of climate change and a global pandemic,” said Rep. Johnson (GA-04). “Investing in transit – trains, rapid buses and light rail – is an opportunity to reimagine how we move in the world. Let’s cut our reliance on polluting fossil fuels so our environment can recover. Let’s prioritize racial equity by investing in workers – essential workers – who have been on the front lines of the pandemic. We know how to power our transportation needs differently while still meeting America’s energy demands. Let’s get to it.”

“Status quo policies and funding for American transportation systems continue to fail millions of diverse, working class communities like the people of Chicago,” said Rep. García. “Essential workers across the country rely on crumbling, delayed public transit systems while the lack of safe, accessible, and affordable public transportation deprives many Latino and Black neighborhoods of economic opportunity. It's time we make bold investments to bring America’s infrastructure into the 21st century and begin to undo decades of disinvestment in communities of color,” said Rep. García. The transportation sector remains the largest contributor to U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and to tackle the climate crisis and support working families, Congress must make transformative investments in clean, reliable, and convenient public transportation alternatives.”

Read the full letter below or HERE.

Dear President Biden, Majority Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader McConnell, and House Minority Leader McCarthy:

As negotiations on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework and the reconciliation package continue, we are writing to make clear how important it is that any final bill addresses two of the most significant challenges facing our nation today: climate change and racial equity.  The transportation sector is the largest generator of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States; and a lack of safe, accessible, and affordable transportation has cut many Black and brown neighborhoods off from economic opportunity.  To meet the moment, we need bold federal action, such as provided for in the INVEST Act, to modernize our transportation policy. Key to this is ensuring public transportation is incorporated and properly funded in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework and the reconciliation package.

In this context, 20 percent of guaranteed funding and contract authority from the Highway Trust Fund for transit is simply insufficient. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework and reconciliation package must include a baseline threshold for transit funding that provides a pathway for parity with the level of funding for roads and bridges. This is especially true now given that the economy is still recovering, and many Americans have been out of work. Further, there is a need to address $105 billion in backlog state of repair needs and a need to modernize and electrify transit systems. This minimum 20 percent level of investment is a 40-year-old precedent that, frankly, is not up to 21st century needs and demands. For the past 40 years, transit has received only $1 for every $4 that has gone to highways. This imbalance has led to inadequate transit service, pushing consumers toward solo driving — a huge financial and climate burden especially to our most vulnerable, marginalized communities.

If we are serious about mitigating climate change and ensuring equitable access to economic opportunity, we cannot keep prioritizing highways over transit – and therefore the 20 percent status quo must go. To meet this country’s climate goals and avoid catastrophic consequences from climate change, transit funding must be significantly increased in the BIF to match the percentage provided in the House’s INVEST in America Act. At the same time, we must ensure there is a pathway for transit funding to reach parity with the level of funding for roads and bridges through reconciliation or alternative legislation. To ensure adequate funding, the House must have the opportunity to build on the Senate’s proposals and deliver the investments that match the scale of our communities’ needs.     

There is also a need to craft a Surface Transportation Authorization within the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill to move the needle forward on rebuilding and modernizing America’s transportation infrastructure. However, we only move backwards if we abjectly fail to incorporate public transit provisions in the bill that at bare minimum, call for at least 20 percent of guaranteed funding from the Highway Trust Fund. The idea that we would retreat from that level — a level established under Ronald Reagan — when we are claiming to invest in economic recovery, address catastrophic global climate change, and finally address the racial inequities of our transportation system strains credulity.

We must do better. We must seize the moment through bold and transformative investments in public transportation. This once-in-a-generation chance to address climate change and racial inequities must not go to waste.

Sincerely,

Representative Henry “Hank” Johnson

Representative Jesús G. "Chuy" García

Cosigners: Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Debbie Dingell, Barbara Lee, Sheila Jackson Lee, Jared Huffman, Cori Bush, Yvette D. Clarke, Jan Schakowsky, Dina Titus, Anthony G. Brown, Julia Brownley, Emanuel Cleaver, II, Rashida Tlaib, Gwen S. Moore, Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D., Jerry McNerney, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Alma S. Adams, Ph.D., Jake Auchincloss, Raúl M. Grijalva,  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Donald M. Payne, Jr., Carolyn B. Maloney, Frederica S. Wilson, Nanette Diaz Barragán, Earl Blumenauer, André Carson, Adriano Espaillat, Al Green, Alan Lowenthal, Steve Cohen, Dwight Evans, Ritchie Torres, Albio Sires, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Danny K. Davis, Seth Moulton, Mark Pocan, Ilhan Omar, Brad Sherman, Pramila Jayapal, Maxine Waters, Thomas R. Suozzi, Marilyn Strickland, Melanie Stansbury, Nydia M. Velázquez, Jerrold Nadler, Grace Meng, Karen Bass, Brenda L. Lawrence, Bennie Thompson, Ro Khanna, Marie Newman, Nikema Williams, Brendan F. Boyle, Adam Smith, Mark DeSaulnier, Lisa Blunt Rochester, Gregory W. Meeks, Stephen F. Lynch.

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