House Nixes Funding for Transit Service. Where Is Schumer?

schumer_affordable.jpgChuck, what about keeping transit affordable?
Last night's news about the denial of Rep. DeFazio's amendment to fund transit operations left us wondering whether parliamentary issues were really the deciding factor. In general, it appears, the Democratic leadership is coming down hard against any add-ons to the recovery package. "There's a desire to keep the bill at the size it is currently," said one House staffer involved in the negotiations who wished to remain anonymous. "Pelosi's office and the Appropriations Committee are resistant to amendments that increase the size of the bill."

Now it's up to the Senate to get this provision into the stimulus bill. Bus and subway riders all over the country need Chuck Schumer and rookie Kirsten Gillibrand to earn their keep on this one. New York's Senate delegation has to come out strong for transit operations if American cities are going to stave off a wave of fare hikes and service cuts.

And wouldn't it be nice to see MTA chief Lee Sander ride the train down to Washington and make the case for transit operations? This seems like a golden opportunity for the MTA CEO to campaign on behalf of straphangers and save the fare.

Meanwhile, as Sarah mentioned last night, the focus in the House now shifts to Jerrold Nadler's proposal to add $3 billion for transit capital investments. The people to call today are Nancy Pelosi (202-225-0100) and Appropriations Chair David Obey (202-225-3365). The Speaker, especially, should be trying as hard as she can to make more room for transit investment if she wants to do right by her San Francisco district.