US Transportation Secretary pledges more federal support for transit during Dallas visit
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Wednesday pledged stronger federal support for transit agencies such as Dallas Area Rapid Transit.
Buttigieg traveled to Dallas-Fort Worth to promote the $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that the Senate passed on Tuesday. President Joe Biden introduced the bill, now awaiting a vote in the House, as the biggest federal investment ever in public transportation.
“We have to face the fact that our federal government has not sufficiently supported transportation agencies like DART; that’s changing, ”Buttigieg said at a press conference at the Lovers Lane light rail station in northeast Dallas.
As part of his visit, Buttigieg traveled to DFW International Airport and also visited a DART construction site.
Dallas Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson and Colin Allred, both of whom sit on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, accompanied Buttigieg on his visit. The transportation secretary also met with another Democratic representative, Marc Veasey of Fort Worth, as well as officials from the Texas Department of Transportation.
Allred said the federal infrastructure bill – which the Biden administration says would create 2 million jobs a year over the next 10 years – will be “hugely beneficial” to North Texas.
The bill passed with the support of 19 Republican senators, but Texans John Cornyn and Ted Cruz voted against it.
“After examining the [Congressional Budget Office]Analysis of, which estimates the bill will increase the deficit by a quarter of a billion dollars… I cannot support the final bill, ”Cornyn said in a written statement after the vote. “It is not paid, will add too much to the debt and was rushed by the Senate.”
His proposed amendment, which would have allowed state and local governments to spend unused coronavirus relief money on infrastructure, was left out of the final package, although he received support from Democrats and Republicans.
According to a White House fact sheet, Texas is expected to receive $ 26.9 billion in federal assistance for highway programs, as well as $ 537 million to repair and replace bridges over the next five years.
“North Texas is going to receive a large percentage of this money that comes to the state, so the job growth for us is also going to be in terms of not only creating new infrastructure, but also keeping what we have. have, “Allred said.
Johnson expressed confidence in the federal bill’s ability to help fund Texas’ transportation needs, but added that lawmakers must ensure that work to improve infrastructure also serves historically deprived communities of their rights.
“We have planned our money for transport; we are a state of transport, ”she said. “But in all fairness, we need to balance that responsibility and make sure all people are included.”
Lawmakers are also considering a $ 3.5 trillion bill to increase investment in social programs, including child care, universal preschool and paid family leave. This bill met with strong opposition from Republicans.
Allred said the $ 1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and the $ 3.5 trillion spending bill would work together.
“These are all programs that make workers more productive in their jobs, and this leads to a more productive overall economy,” he said. “So I really think they’re working together, and I’m going to work to make sure we can get them both through. “