Senate Panel Backs $1.2B for High Speed Rail, $1.4B Extra For Highways
The Senate panel in charge of transportation spending has just released its version of the budget bill that passed the House last week, giving less to high-speed rail and more to highways than the lower chamber of Congress.
The Senate's transportation bill, shepherded by senior appropriator Patty Murray (D-WA), provides $1.2 billion for the Obama administration's high-speed rail initiative -- $200 million more than the White House's budget request, but significantly less than the $4 billion that the House set aside for that purpose.
Highways, by contrast, got $41.1 billion from the House but $1.4 billion extra from the Senate, for a total of $43.5 billion in spending. Transit would get $480 million more than the White House requested, along with a $150 million infusion for the cash-strapped D.C. Metro system.
Senators matched their House counterparts on funding for the administration's inter-agency "livable communities" project, which is aimed at encouraging transit-oriented development. And the Senate outdid the House on rail safety, providing the $50 million in grants for technology upgrades that was sought by two senior Democrats after the D.C. Metro crashed last month.The Senate's total spending on both transportation and housing for 2010: $122 billion. The bill released today is expected to be merged with the House product sometime in the fall before heading to the president's desk.