As we’ve crossed the halfway point of 2011, Metro’s government relations staff are still plugging away and hoping to persuade Congress to make America Fast Forward [AFF] the law of the land.
AFF would provide government loans and other financing that would allow Metro to accelerate the construction of 12 Measure R transit projects. As things stand now, those projects would be built between now and 2038. With AFF, Metro is hoping to condense that timeline to the next decade or so.
The goal is to make AFF part of the next multiyear transportation spending bill, which is already two-plus years overdue. On the plus side, AFF continues to get some plugs from both sides of the aisle — including the following one from Sen. Charles Schumer (D-New York). Here’s the email from Metro CEO Art Leahy to staff:
Yesterday [last Thursday], key elements of America Fast Forward received a significant boost in Washington, D.C. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the third Ranking Senate Democrat and the Chair of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee unveiled the Democratic Senate’s job creation plan that focuses primarily on “A Highway Bill that will put people back to work building critical infrastructure,” as well as creating a National Infrastructure Bank.
Metro staff and Federal Advocates will continue to work in a bipartisan fashion to bring this plan to fruition. Below is the quote from Senator Schumer:
“In the Senate, we will unabashedly pursue a comprehensive jobs agenda in the weeks and months to come. This ‘Jobs First’ Agenda will include …: 1. A Highway Bill that will put people back to work building critical infrastructure. 2. A National Infrastructure Bank, which both labor and the Chamber of Commerce have strongly supported. 3. Incentives to create clean energy jobs. 4. Reforming America’s high-skilled immigration system. 5. We will also pursue the bipartisan Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act to get China to reform its currency exchange rate practices. 6. It could also include an extension of the employee payroll tax cut passed as part of the tax cut deal in December, and could be extended to the employer side … 7. We will also look at reforming, simplifying, and making permanent the research and development tax credit. … 8. Finally, we will look to renew the so-called 48C program, which provides tax credits for qualified investments in green energy projects.”