Dems’ reconciliation bill has $6B transportation ‘slush fund’ that GOP aide warns could fund backdoor earmarks

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Sections of the bill from Transport Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio include $6 billion to be spent on undefined ‘local surface transport priorities’ for Buttigieg.

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The Democrats’ reconciliation bill includes a $6 billion fund that will be funded by the Secretary of Transportation. Pete Buttigieg Will be able to allocate entirely at his discretion, an arrangement at least one Senate GOP aide says could act as a backdoor to funding Earmark.

Section 110008 in 2465 page bill The release Friday sets aside $6 billion for “projects to advance local surface transportation priorities.” He was Presented by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, chaired by Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore.

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DeFazio notably wrote the INVEST Act, the House’s version of the infrastructure bill passed earlier this year. But Senate moderates essentially removed all of DeFazio’s work from the Investment Act and replaced it with their preferred legislation, which becomes the bipartisan infrastructure bill that is set for a possible House vote on Monday.

The Senate’s disregard for the Investment Act upsets DeFazio, who isn’t shy about his distaste for the bipartisan bill.

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“It was written by three people who have neither knowledge nor expertise in transportation infrastructure,” DeFazio said in July.

He later revised the number of people with “no knowledge or expertise” in infrastructure to four: Sense. Kirsten Cinema, D-Ariz.; Rob Portman, R-Ohio; Susan Collins, R-Main, and White House Counselor Steve Richetti.

Just this week DeFazio reiterated those comments, calling the bipartisan bill “nonsense” and saying, “I’m trying to fix it in reconciliation,” According to NBC.

DeFazio also said Letter to other Democrats Aug 16 That he wants to put the priorities of the Investment Act in the Democrats’ reconciliation bill, which includes “member nominated projects”, also known as earmarks.

And a Senate GOP aide familiar with transit talks says the $6 billion being allocated to Buttigieg to spend at his discretion could be a convenient backdoor way to fund some of those earmarks.

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“Chairman DeFazio is not shy about expressing displeasure at being left out of bipartisan infrastructure talks,” the aide told Granthshala News. “Now he is promising his allies that his $3.5 trillion tax-and-spend spree has a shot at convincing the administration to use the $6 billion slush fund for ‘member-designated projects. Speak for earmarks.”

“Don’t be surprised when Secretary Buttigieg announces $20 million for solar panels at bus stops in Guam or $3 million to paint bathrooms in San Francisco,” the aide said.

Projects referenced by collaborators are earmarks requested Guam Congressional Representative Michael San Nicolas and California Representative Barbara Lee, both by Democrats.

According to the San Nicolas website, Guam’s bus shelters are inadequate and few, along with other elements of the area’s public transportation. The project is officially named “Guam Public Transit Modernization – Bus Shelter” and will increase the number of bus shelters on the island tenfold.

Lee’s website says that $3 million is “designated to renovate 26 public restrooms with new paint, lighting, bathroom fixtures and floor/wall repairs at 13 BART stations in Alameda County. The project includes where possible.” Yes, the LED lighting upgrade will also include the area adjacent to the toilet.”

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Other stipulated conditions for the Investment Act were $440,000 for an electric trolley in Ojai, Calif., requested by Rep. Julia Brownlee, D-California. trolley works About 7,000 riders per month. The trolley operates two routes, which massive overlap.

Democrats are not the only members who have requested to be set out in the Investment Act.

Rape. Maria Salazar, R-Fla. requested eight earmarks on his own. They included $1.4 million for a trolley project at Coral Gables, which was not approved in the Investment Act. One of Salazar’s projects that was approved was the “Commodore Trail Missing Link,” a $999,205 attempts To create a safer place for cyclists and pedestrians to travel on South Miami Avenue.

Reps. Lee Zeldin, R.N.Y., Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., Ayana Pressley, D-Mas., Stephanie Bice, R-Okla., and many others also earmarked for the bill. the requested. .

DeFazio’s office did not respond to a request for comment on whether it is prompting the administration to use the $6 billion being set aside for “local surface transportation priorities,” which are the earmarks of the Investment Act. depicts in detail. The request also asked whether DeFazio would approve Buttigieg using the money for the Guam Bus Shelter, Bay Area Transportation Authority (BART) bathrooms or the Ojai trolley.

The Department of Transportation did not respond to a request for comment on whether Secretary Buttigieg has been in touch with DeFazio about how the influential congressman wants to spend that discretionary money. The request also asked whether the secretary would spend discretionary funds in a manner that closely reflects the stipulations of the Investment Act.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Cal., expedited work on the reconciliation bill later this week in hopes of satisfying progressives who want assurances that it will indeed be passed before a vote on the Senate infrastructure bill next week. . But liberals and progressive Democrats are still far from what they want to see in the reconciliation bill and the order in which the House should move the two pieces of legislation.

This means that most conciliation bills can change before their final passage – if it is passed at all.

Pelosi will not commit on Friday to bring the reconciliation to a vote in the House next week. But she said she is “encouraged” with how things are going.

Granthshala News’ Jason Donner, Chad Pergram and Jackie Heinrich contributed to this report.


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