Quigley Calls for Investments in Nation’s Crumbling Infrastructure
Calls House THUD Bill Deficient, But Fights to Include Chicago Priorities
WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05), Illinois’ only member of the House Appropriations Committee, fought to include critical infrastructure investments, transit safety protections, and housing programs in the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) funding bill for 2016. Rep. Quigley fought for amendments that would have fully funded Amtrak, made significant long-term investments in infrastructure, and would have funded the much needed implementation of positive train control throughout the country.
“For generations, this country’s infrastructure served as the backbone of our economic success. We dreamed big, we built bigger, and our economy flourished. But, this neglectful funding bill does not make the long-term investments in projects that could modernize our crumbling infrastructure, spur economic growth and create jobs,” said Rep. Quigley. “Our nation is watching as first responders continue to sift through the rubble and families cope with their lost and injured loved ones resulting from Tuesday’s Amtrak derailment. I am outraged that Congress chose to shortchange infrastructure investments that our country desperately needs.”
While the THUD funding bill lacks the necessary investments in 21st century infrastructure and public housing, Congressman Quigley was able to successfully include important priorities for Chicago, which is a transportation hub for the entire nation.
CHICAGO PRIORITIES QUIGLEY FOUGHT TO INCLUDE
- Vital Investments in Transit
- $40 million for Core Capacity Grants to fund critical repairs and expand capacity for existing transit lines, including the Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) modernization of the Red and Purple lines
- Core Capacity Study to identify the capacity needs of the nation’s largest transit systems and address ways to improve transit infrastructure and expand the use of environmentally-friendly public transit around the country
- $3 million for Transit Technical Assistance and Standards Development to make transit systems more accessible and user-friendly for seniors and individuals with disabilities
- Rail Safety Improvements
- $2 million for the Short Line and Regional Railroad Safety Program to support safety training and assistance for short line and regional railroads, which are increasingly used to transport hazardous crude oil
- Mandated the Study of the Volatility and Stabilization of Crude Oil to better understand the dangerous volatility of crude oil being transported in and around Chicago and examine possible solutions including requiring the oil to be stabilized prior to transport
- Increased Support for the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) Program
- $332 million for HOPWA grants
- Included language directing HUD to update the outdated HOPWA formula to account for advances in healthcare and increase HOPWA funding for Chicago
- Greater Access to Housing Programs for LGBT and High Risk Homeless Populations
- LGBT Access to HUD Study requires HUD to report on its current work and strategy for ensuring LGBT access to HUD programs and its plan for communicating that to local housing agencies
- Study of Populations at High Risk of Homelessness would identify the most vulnerable populations to homelessness and recommend outreach policies
Rep. Quigley has a long record of advocating for implementation of positive train control (PTC) safety technology. Most recently, Rep. Quigley introduced legislation to provide much needed funding to implement Positive Train Control (PTC). The Reassuring Adequate Investment in Lifesaving Systems or the RAILS Act, which he introduced along with Rep. Dan Lipinski (IL-03) in March, reauthorizes the Railroad Safety Technology Grants Program to provide critical funding for train safety technologies. The bill would provide $200 million for each of the next five years for positive train control safety technologies, rail integrity inspection systems, a system for electronic communication regarding hazardous material rail shipments, and other new rail safety items. On the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Quigley has also offered amendments to increase PTC funding and helped make $80 million in the FY14 omnibus available to fund the Railroad Safety Technology Grants Program.
Rep. Quigley is the only Illinois member currently serving on the House Appropriations Committee, which approves the federal government’s annual spending levels for nearly all federal programs. He has prioritized Chicago-area infrastructure investments as a member of the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD). Last year, he helped secure funding for Core Capacity grants that would benefit CTA, TIGER grants to benefit both highways and pedestrian projects, and completion of the McCook and Thornton reservoirs to reduce long-term flooding in Cook County.