Quigley Presses Transportation Secretary Chao on Infrastructure Funding
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Representatives Mike Quigley (IL-05), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, released the below statement following a Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Subcommittee Hearing, during which he questioned Transportation Secretary Chao on the classification of Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loans:
Watch the exchange here.
“At today’s hearing, Secretary Chao attempted to tell me that in some—or even most—cases, federal loans for transportation projects that are paid back by local funds do not count as the local cost share for much-needed construction projects. She failed to convince me because she is wrong. Under the law, TIFIA loans, which many Illinois and Chicago agencies rely on to help fund crucial projects such as CTA’s Blue Line improvements and the River Walk, are expressly considered part of the local portion of project funding.
“It is alarming that the Secretary of Transportation doesn’t understand—or refuses to acknowledge—the laws that inform the way her Department functions on such a basic level. It’s even more disturbing that her misinterpretation and misrepresentation of facts have already been used to help kill funding for a major transportation project in New York and New Jersey and could ultimately jeopardize essential federal money for some of Chicago’s biggest projects. This blatant departure from existing policy will have a chilling effect on infrastructure loan programs nationwide. I will continue to use my position as only Illinois member of the House Appropriations Committee to press Secretary Chao on this issue and ensure that she enforces the law as it’s written, not as she may wish it was.”
Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loans aim to leverage limited federal resources and stimulate capital market investment in transportation infrastructure by providing credit assistance in the form of direct loans, loan guarantees, and standby lines of credit (rather than grants) to projects of national or regional significance. Up until now, these loans—given that they would be repaid from local funds—were considered part of the local share.