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The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is holding an oversight hearing on USDOT’s failure to release transit grants

Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee speaking at a hearing.House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) speaking at a hearing.

Transportation for America urges the House of Representatives to turn up the heat on USDOT for failing to release funding for transit grants during an oversight hearing on Tuesday, July 16.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is holding a long-awaited oversight hearing on Tuesday, July 16 at 10:00 AM to hold the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) accountable for failing to spend transit funds that Congress already appropriated for deserving transit projects. 

“The Trump administration is undermining Americans’ access to jobs and improved quality of life by failing to release approved funding for transit projects,” Beth Osborne, director of Transportation for America, said. “USDOT has slowed down the pipeline of projects dramatically and made the process so confusing and unclear that local communities could be discouraged from even applying with their new projects, even though Congress has repeatedly provided funds for this program. Communities and leaders on both sides of the aisle choose to invest in public transit because it makes sense. The federal government needs to do its job—release the funds in a transparent and timely manner.” 

Since the Trump administration took office more than two years ago, Congress has appropriated  approximately $3.8 billion to the popular transit Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program, the main source of federal funding for building and expanding transit systems in cities of all sizes all over the country. 

Congress has continued to hold up their part of the bargain, but USDOT has failed to do its job, awarding just one-third of that $3.8 billion to new transit projects, slowing the pipeline of transit projects down to a snail’s pace.  By the middle of 2019—two and a half years into the Trump’s first term—the USDOT had approved and signed just five grant agreements for new, large, multi-year transit projects. 

USDOT is still sitting on ~$2.4 billion that is to be obligated to transit projects. Communities are waiting;  jobs and critical projects are on the line. Local communities are counting on the federal government to be a reliable partner and provide the funds they have been counting on. The funding for new or improved transit service has already been appropriated by Congress—USDOT just needs to do its job.

Transportation for America applauds Representative Peter DeFazio, chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, for bringing this important issue to light. We hope that Committee members will join him in asking difficult questions during the hearing, such as: 

  •  Why does FTA seem to be unwilling to sign grant agreements for eligible transit projects?
  •  Why isn’t FTA being more transparent and forthcoming about the status of projects publicly and with project sponsors. FTA no longer publishes the same summaries on their website.
  • Why does FTA seem to be aiming to confuse the public with the announcements of “funding allocations” which are not binding and don’t result in any actual money going to local agencies?