Schumer: Gateway project is a go despite Trump's objection

Schumer: Gateway project is a go despite Trump's objection
© Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerRed-state Dem tells Schumer to 'kiss my you know what' on Supreme Court vote Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick Trump's latest win: More Americans are saying, 'I quit!' MORE (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday that a multibillion-dollar rail project in the New York metro region is a go, despite the Trump administration’s opposition to funding the program in an upcoming omnibus spending bill. 

“The good news is we have bipartisan support for getting it done,” Schumer told reporters as Democrats unveiled their own infrastructure plan. “And from everything I hear, it’s all-systems-move-ahead despite what the president had to say.”

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New York and New Jersey lawmakers for the past week have pressed Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoMcConnell: I won't be intimidated by protesters Protesters confront McConnell leaving Kentucky restaurant The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Wild night of primaries reshapes 2018 midterms MORE for answers on the Gateway Program, which aims to rebuild passenger rail connections under the Hudson River between the two states.

Chao engaged in heated exchanges with several lawmakers from the two states on Tuesday in front of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, arguing the states should put up more money for Gateway. In one of those interactions, Chao appeared to confirm a report in The Washington Post that said President TrumpDonald John TrumpReporters defend CNN's Acosta after White House says he 'disrespected' Trump with question Security costs of Trump visit to Scotland sparks outrage among Scottish citizens Ex-CIA officer: Prosecution of Russians indicted for DNC hack 'ain't ever going to happen' MORE pressed Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanFive GOP lawmakers mulling bid to lead conservative caucus On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Trump walks back criticism of UK Brexit strategy | McConnell worries US in 'early stages' of trade war | US trade deficit with China hits new record Tampons sent to Dem who called for free feminine hygiene products in House MORE (R-Wis.) to block $950 million in funding for the project. 

But a senior Department of Transportation official later clarified to reporters that the administration opposes funding the project in the upcoming spending bill, describing the money as an earmark, but is not trying to kill the program altogether. Congress banned earmarks in 2011.

“The dispute, if you will, or the conversation as it currently stands, is about how to fund, not about whether the states that care so substantially about these should be able to go ahead with them,” that official said.

But House lawmakers are nearing the end of writing the omnibus spending bill, which could get a vote as soon as next week.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, pushed back against describing the Gateway project funding as an earmark, telling reporters Tuesday that the money is "authorized” and has bipartisan support.

He also indicated that it's too late to strip the project's funding from the legislation.

“At this stage, reopening that bill would, I think, blow everything up," Diaz-Balart said of the omnibus.