It doesn’t take a genius to realize the haggling — a nice term — in Congress over raising the U.S. debt ceiling and huge federal budget cuts probably doesn’t bode well for many programs, such as transportation. That’s a bad thing, because transit agencies across the U.S. — including Metro — depend deeply on federal dollars for an array of needs.
Here’s the latest update from the ongoing brouha in Washington from Metro’s government relations staff:
Debt-Ceiling Negotiations In Washington, DC May Impact Future Federal Transportation Funds
Bills introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to address the debt-ceiling facing the U.S. Treasury would not create separate discretionary categories for either federal highways and transit programs. The practical effect of this is that both highway and transit programs would have to struggle for discretionary budget authority under the overall caps established by both the Boehner and Reid bills. The exact effect of eliminating the separate discretionary categories [which were enacted in 1998 by the U.S. Congress] for highways and transit is unclear, though it is fair to assume that the end result will be less robust federal transportation programs. Both bills would cap new budget discretionary spending through 2021. We will continue to closely be engaged in discussions with Members of Congress to aggressively advocate for a strong federal commitment to both its highway and transit programs.