(The Center Square) – The seven-bill fiscal 2022 appropriations package the U.S. House of Representatives passed includes billions of dollars for rail projects.
The House on Thursday voted, 219-208, to pass the roughly $600 billion HR 4502, a so-called “minibus” package.
The $84.1 billion transit portion of the legislation includes $2.7 billion in grants for Amtrak to “support operating and capital activities.” The funding is a $700 million increase from the fiscal 2021 level.
In addition to $1.5 billion in Amtrak national rail network grants, the bill includes $1.2 billion in grants for the Northeast Corridor.
According to U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., the funding will, in part, go toward the Gateway Project and the construction of a new tunnel between New Jersey and New York. It will also fund Amtrak’s proposed service expansion on the Lackawanna Cut-Off in northwestern New Jersey.
The measure also includes $2.5 billion for the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grants program and $1.2 billion for the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) program.
“Passing this package is a huge win for our state, our district, and every single community in NJ-11,” Sherrill said in a statement. “Now, we must get it on the President’s desk and signed into law.”
But U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J., blasted the legislation as reckless spending, saying it will lead to increased inflation.
“The bill totals almost $600 billion, which is a 21% increase from fiscal year 2021,” the Cape May County Herald quoted Van Drew as saying in a release. “Our national debt is increasing astronomically, and the majority in Congress wants to continue increased spending, which will only inflate everyday consumer costs.
“… This legislation includes poison pill policies that make it impossible for me to vote yes,” Van Drew added. “Our country is tired. Tired of political gamesmanship. Tired of insincere partisan maneuvering. Tired of this absolute selfish dysfunction. If this was an earnest attempt at legislating, I could lend my support where appropriate. Unfortunately, I must oppose this bill.”