Posts about Steny Hoyer
One of the predominant myths about the District is that the federal government fully compensates any costs or lost revenue it incurs as the Federal District. In reality, DC residents bear a heavy fiscal burden
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, clearly understands this, stating last week that he is open to a measure that would shrink this deficit.
What about House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer? It was disappointing enough that the powerful Maryland Democrat came out immediately against Issa's proposal. Did he have to do it by evoking the myth that won't die?
The District's structural deficit begins with the fact that the largest employer and landowner in the city Continue reading Ken's op-ed in the Washington Post. And please congratulate Ken for his first op-ed for the Post! We hope to see more of Ken's articles on the editorial pages in the future, as well as those from other frequent contributors.
Continue reading Ken's op-ed in the Washington Post. And please congratulate Ken for his first op-ed for the Post! We hope to see more of Ken's articles on the editorial pages in the future, as well as those from other frequent contributors.
Press coverage of the Metro crash has evolved from blaming Metro officials for the crash to blaming local, state and national leaders for chronically underfunding the Metro system.
Robert McCartney harangues elected officials for saying Metro needed more money, but not having pushed harder for more money. He also points out that Barack Obama's budget left out the promised $150 million in federal matching funds.
This morning, Metro announced its intention to move the 1000-series cars to the centers of trains (where possible). Many of you suggested this same measure. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer plans to ask for $3 billion in federal assistance to replace the 1000 Series rail cars.
Many immigrant-hating nutcases have been calling the family of crash victim Ana Fernandez, claiming that the family is exploiting the tragedy to get legal status. In fact, Fernandez was a legal immigrant, and her six children were born in the U.S. DCist shares our outrage.
If you were selling a house, and had agreed on a price with the buyer, would you decide to simply transfer the house to the buyer before they'd even signed a contract or put down a deposit? If your realtor told you that you have to give the buyer the house, because if not they might decide not to buy, you'd tell the realtor to take a hike and find a new realtor. Some of Maryland's House and Senate members, however, are in essence asking DC, Montgomery and Prince George's Counties, and Northern Virginia to do just that with Metro funding and seats on the WMATA Board.
Last year, WMATA's jurisdictions and Congress struck a deal. The federal government would contribute $150 million a year over ten years to Metro's capital and maintenance needs. In exchange, the three jurisdictions would match it, $50 million a year from each of DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Also, the feds would receive two seats on the WMATA Board of Directors.
To implement this change, each of DC, Maryland, and Virginia must amend the WMATA Compact. The federal law authorizing this (all the way at the bottom) says,
No amounts may be provided to the Transit Authority pursuant to the authorization under this section until the Transit Authority notifies the Secretary of Transportation that each of the following amendments to the Compact ... have taken effect:The DC Council passed a bill first. Written by Councilmember Jim Graham, it amends the compact to include the three items above. It also specifies that, if the federal government does not actually pony up the promised $150 million, then the federal representatives don't get to participate on the Board. If everyone follows through on the deal, everyone gets what was promised. If not, the feds don't get a vote. If you're selling your house and the buyer discovers they can't get a mortgage, you don't still have to give them the house anyway.
(1)(A) An amendment requiring that all payments by the local signatory governments ... for the purpose of matching any Federal funds ... are made from amounts derived from dedicated funding sources. ...
(2) An amendment establishing an Office of the Inspector General of the Transit Authority.
(3) An amendment expanding the Board of Directors of the Transit Authority to include 4 additional Directors appointed by the Administrator of General Services, of whom 2 shall be nonvoting and 2 shall be voting, and requiring one of the voting members so appointed to be a regular passenger and customer of the bus or rail service of the Transit Authority.
The danger comes because the federal bill only "authorizes" funding. It doesn't "appropriate" the funding. Congress could very well never actually pay anything, or pay much less than promised. But meanwhile, local taxpayers would lose influence over Metro operations. The board seats represent some, perhaps small, amount of leverage. Giving seats away without more of a guarantee of funding tosses that leverage away.
Delegate Adam Ebbin of Arlington introduced an identical bill, but then suddenly substituted a different version. That version simply adds federal representatives with no strings attached. (Both texts are here; click on the "HB2596" tab for the original, and the "HB2596H1" tab for the substitute.) According to sources familiar with the process, Maryland's elected officials persuaded Virginia to make the switch. Barbara Mikulski, Ben Cardin, and were involved, but my sources say the primary pressure came from Congressman Steny Hoyer, House Majority Leader and representative of College Park, Bowie and Southern Maryland.
Those pushing for a "clean" bill argue, my sources say, that Congress might not follow through if the bill includes any conditions on the federal representation. It turns out that the concept of a deal, where both parties have to follow through or the deal is off, isn't the typical way the House and Senate Appropriations Committees operate. Local leaders have been working for years to build support for this deal, they say; let's not do anything to screw it up. However, if something else screws it up anyway, we've just given up some local autonomy for nothing.
The no-strings substitute bill has passed Virginia's House. Update: and now, the Virginia legislature just substituted back the DC version again. If
something does pass at this point, most likely it will add federal representatives unconditionally. the no-strings version passes, we'll have to hold local officials' feet to the fire. If Hoyer, Mikulski, Cardin, Warner, Webb and the rest get the bill they want, they'd better push hard, and fast, to get the full $150 million appropriation for Metro this year, and keep it coming each year for the full ten.
President Bush is threatening to veto an Amtrak funding bill because it doesn't provide accountability. That's a little ironic, coming from him, but we already know Bush is completely and unalterably opposed to rail transit as a viable mode of travel in the United States. Sadly, so is John McCain.
BeyondDC has a summary of the bill, which not only funds Amtrak but would take steps (mostly baby steps) toward improving speeds between New York and Washington, creating high-speed rail to Charlotte, building a new rail tunnel under Baltimore (perhaps the one from Camden Yards here?), and adding a third track to Richmond which would relieve key capacity bottlenecks.
Eleanor Holmes Norton and Elijah Cummings are cosposors of the bill. BeyondDC further reports that House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer "says passage of the bill before the August recess will be a priority." If Congress can avoid a Senate filibuster, pass the bill, draw a veto, and schedule an override vote, it'd be a good opportunity to force anti-transit Congresspeople to defend their opposition to something that would relieve the problems of high gas prices just as we near the election.
- Bikeshare is a gateway to private biking, not competition
- Judge denies injunction against closing schools
- Long-term closures: A solution to single-tracking?
- Metro policy for refunds after delays falls short, riders say
- PG planners propose bold new smart growth future
- Prince George's County struggles to get trails right
- M Street cycle track keeps improving, draws church anger