Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Susan Collins, Chairman of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, led a hearing today that analyzed the President’s FY 2016 budget request for the U.S. Department of Transportation. During the hearing, Chairman Collins questioned the Administration’s top Transportation Official, Secretary Anthony Foxx.
In her opening remarks, Senator Collins stated that “The President’s budget is based on a reauthorization that is once again funded by a Band-Aid approach.” Senator Collins continued, “It is perplexing to hear the Administration talk about how important our nation’s infrastructure is, yet at the same time, continue to remain silent on trust fund reforms that must be put in place in order to address our crumbling infrastructure now and in the future. Simply saying ‘we are happy to work with Congress’ is not an acceptable answer…this is a critical year for transportation, both for the Administration and for Congress.”
In today’s hearing, Chairman Collins highlighted programs included in the President’s budget that have been critical to the State of Maine. Specifically, Senator Collins stated that she was “pleased to see the Administration continue to highlight the importance of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Program (TIGER),” but was disappointed that the President’s budget used gimmicks and unrealistic channels to fund this important program.
Senator Collins went on to say that she has “advocated for TIGER since joining the Appropriations Committee in 2009 and seen first-hand how this program supports economic growth and job creation, nationally, regionally, and locally. It has been essential to many bridge, railroad, and port projects in my home state of Maine that would not have otherwise been undertaken when they needed to be.”
Since 2009, Senator Collins has been able to successfully secure more than $90 million through the TIGER program for key projects throughout the state of Maine, including the replacements of bridges in Kittery, Dresden-Richmond, and Rumford, and the breakwater in Eastport.
Given the increase in transportation of crude oil by rail, Chairman Collins questioned Secretary Foxx about the need to finalize the rulemaking regarding tank cars and oil spill response plans. Senator Collins underscored the tragic incident that occurred two years ago in Lac Megantic, a Canadian town which is near the Maine border, as evidence for the necessity of regulations that would require comprehensive oil spill response plans for all railroads that transport crude oil. In response, Secretary Foxx noted that he shared Senator Collins’ concerns and that the Department takes this issue very seriously. In addition, he stated that the Department of Transportation is working closely with the Office of Management and Budget to develop a comprehensive rule that will impact mitigation, prevention, and emergency response.