The House is set today to vote on a fiscal 2010 transportation
spending bill that would provide $4 billion for high-speed rail and lay
the groundwork for the creation of a national infrastructure bank.
H.R. 3288 (pdf) would provide a total of $75.8 billion for the Transportation Department, an $8.6 billion jump from fiscal 2009.
The $4 billion for high-speed and intercity passenger rail is four
times the total President Obama had sought for the upcoming fiscal
year. The economic stimulus included $8 billion to jump-start a
high-speed rail network, and the White House requested an additional $1
billion annually over the next five years.
A provision in the spending bill allows Transportation Secretary Ray
LaHood to transfer half of the high-speed rail program's $4 billion to
a national infrastructure bank, if one is authorized by Congress before
the end of fiscal 2010. Obama had requested $5 billion for 2010 to
start the bank to expand existing transportation investments by
providing seed money for capital projects.
Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa), the ranking member on the Transportation
Appropriations Subcommittee, will offer an amendment that would scale
back the high-speed rail cash to $1 billion and transfer the remaining
$3 billion to the cash-strapped Highway Trust Fund. Latham offered a
similar amendment during last week's markup that was defeated, 22-37.
The White House offered its support for the entire spending bill and
applauded the passenger rail funding increase and the infrastructure
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