Language in the 2012 Energy and Water Appropriations Act that moves $1 billion from a high-speed rail fund to an account for river and coastal flooding repairs prompted a nearly two-hour East Coast vs. Midwest feud in the House on Thursday.
When the House resumed consideration of the bill at 12:30 p.m., several Democrats from the Northeast Corridor took to the floor to protest the transfer of funds. They argued that taking away the high-speed rail funding would stunt job creation in areas the need improved rail service, and deny jobs to transportation industry workers.
Several members from New York in particular spoke against the transfer of funds: Reps. Louise Slaughter (D), Jerrold Nadler (D), Paul Tonko (D), Carolyn Maloney (D) and Laura Richardson (D). Others speaking against it were Reps. John Olver (D-Mass.), David Price (D-N.C.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Al Green (D-Texas), Corrine Brown (D-Fla.), Jim Costa (D-Calif.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), and Hansen Clarke (D-Mich.).
“In cutting funding for high-speed rail projects in this bill, the majority is threatening as many as 60,000 jobs,” DeLauro said. “This is the majority’s answer to last week’s extremely disappointing jobs report that showed that we are mired in unacceptably high 9.2 percent unemployment after adding only 18,000 jobs in June.”
DeLauro argued that the House should take money from oil companies or stop making payments to the Brazilian cotton industry if it needs to find funding.
On the other side were Republicans from Missouri and Louisiana, who argued that the $1 billion in funds in question were unobligated. They also argued that while Democrats might prefer not to pay for flood repairs along the Missouri, Mississippi and other rivers, Republicans are trying to keep government spending under control.
Reps. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.), Rodney Alexander (R-La.), Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.), Steve Scalise (R-La.), Steve Womack (R-Ark.), Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.) and Rick Crawford (R-Ark.) spoke in favor of moving the funds for repairs cause by flood damage, which has threatened U.S. agricultural production.