Booker Statement on House Field Hearing on Gateway Program
NEWARK, N.J. -- U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) issued the below statement on the House of Representatives' Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's field hearing on the Gateway program in New York today. "I'm grateful to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for visiting the region to see first-hand what New Jersey commuters have known for a decade: we urgently need to build a new commuter rail tunnel under the Hudson River and we have no time to delay. I welcome more voices in Congress to the critical fight to advance the Gateway project, because it is too important to the economic vitality, safety, and security of our region and the nation. While the Trump Administration has talked about big infrastructure spending and streamlining environmental review, this project of national significance sits stagnant with its environmental permit awaiting approval and no funding commitment from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Today's hearing should serve to only further demonstrate the bipartisan consensus around the need for this project and the urgency with which it needs to advance." Booker has been a fierce advocate for the Gateway Project since coming to Washington in 2013, working with state and federal leaders to advance the critical infrastructure program through legislation, funding, and project development. Last year, at a hearing in the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee, he pushed Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao on the Department's commitment to federal resources for the project and urged the timely completion of the project's environmental review. The year before, in April 2017, he urged Chao to visit the century-old rail infrastructure connecting New Jersey and New York to see firsthand the critical need for investment, though Chao has yet to schedule a visit. Also in 2017, Booker opposed Jeffrey Rosen's nomination as Deputy Secretary of the Department of Transportation due to his lack of commitment to supporting funding for the project (Rosen is now nominated to be the U.S. Deputy Attorney General). Booker helped jumpstart the Gateway Project in August 2015 by convening a meeting in his office with U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), then-Governor Chris Christie, and then-U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx to discuss governance funding for Gateway. That same year he also held a field hearing in Newark for the Senate Subcommittee on Surface Transportation, to highlight the importance of investing in the Northeast Corridor. As the top-ranking Democrat on the Surface Transportation Subcommittee, Booker was instrumental in helping include key provisions to support Gateway in a massive federal transportation law, the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, that passed the Senate and was signed into law in December 2015. The FAST Act was the first federal law in over ten years to provide long-term funding certainty for surface transportation. Specifically, Booker helped secure provisions enabling Amtrak -- for the first time -- to reinvest revenue generated from the Northeast Corridor back into the Northeast Corridor and making federal low-interest loans more accessible for large rail projects like Gateway, thereby unlocking much-needed capital for these types of projects. These measures were based off two separate bills Booker authored and introduced into Congress: the Railroad Reform, Enhancement, and Efficiency Act and the Railroad Infrastructure Financing Improvement Act.