Photo by Si1very on Flickr.
Congressional Republicans are trying to take away the federal contribution to fixing Metro’s safety problems. While he’s clamoring for a seat on the WMATA Board, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is
staying silent slow to speak up
equivocating on this crucial need, as is Republican Rep. Frank Wolf.
Soon, the Senate Finance Committee will consider HB2000, which mandates that one of the two voting seats on the WMATA Board go to the governor’s designee to NVTC. Right now that’s Thelma Drake, former Congresswoman from Norfolk.
If the bill passes, the WMATA Board will get a member who doesn’t live in the area and certainly doesn’t ride Metro on a regular basis. Still, there is some sense in having the Governor of Virginia involved as a more serious stakeholder. Unfortunately, so far McDonnell has not shown much interest in actually helping improve Metro and other transit in Virginia.
He hasn’t been lobbying his own party to keep the $150 million federal match, which if cut would also mean losing the $50 million from each of Virginia, Maryland, and DC. Or maybe McDonnell would just as soon redirect that money to roads?
Update: Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton told TBD yesterday that they would be sending a letter to Republican leaders “asking them to reconsider proposed cuts to Metro’s capital improvement plan.”
Update 2: TBD followed up, and McDonnell’s office said they still haven’t sent any letter, and that he’s “concerned about the unsustainable rate of spending in Washington DC.”
He sold his transportation plan as “the best opportunity to build roads,” and has devoted only 11.5% of billions in borrowing to transit projects, which are mostly projects already underway anyway, like the Silver Line. He declined to even promise that Virginia would keep up its end of the federal-state capital funding agreement, keeping its $50 million coming as long as the feds deliver on their 150.
The Senate should think very hard before giving more power over Metro to officials in and from Richmond who have continually shown little to no interest in Metro.
Also, where’s Frank? Rep. Frank Wolf’s district contains much of the Silver Line in western Fairfax and Loudoun counties. He seem to have a lot of energy to ask for audits of the project’s progress, but also declined to sign on to Gerry Connolly’s amendment, even though he supported the funding in 1999.
Republican Tom Davis, Gerry Connolly’s predecessor, was a primary driving force behind creating this deal in the first place. He was a much more moderate Republican than the House leadership today, but McDonnell is portraying himself as something other than an ideologue as well. Why are McDonnell and Wolf staying silent as the House GOP threatens to cripple Metro?
The Senate Finance Committee just “passed by for the day” HB2000, as well as HB1999, the terrible Bob Chase-backed bill to mandate that all transportation funding put highway widenings above all. However, if you live in Virginia, the Senators need your urging to defeat both bills. Email them now to ask them to defeat both HB2000 and HB1999.