DC lawmakers slam Metro funding cut

DC lawmakers slam Metro funding cut
© file photo

A group of lawmakers who represent districts in and around Washington, D.C. are criticizing Republicans for cutting funding for the Washington, D.C., Metrorail subway system. 

A GOP spending bill for the departments of Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development is scheduled to come up for a vote on Thursday includes a $50 million budget cut for the capital area subway system, which serves thousands of federal government workers. 

The D.C.-area congressional delegation said Thursday in a joint statement that the Metro system should be fully funded. 

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“We are deeply disappointed that the House of Representatives has chosen to cut $50 million from Metro and not fulfill the long-standing federal commitment critical to rider safety improvements," the lawmakers wrote. 

“Reducing this funding breaks the 10-year federal commitment and jeopardizes the successful local, state and federal partnership," the lawmakers continued. "Millions of Americans – not just from the DC region, but from across the nation – depend on Metro, which is why Congress and the federal government have a responsibility to the operation, oversight, and safety of the system." 

The federal government typically provides about $150 million annually to Metro, which the second busiest transit network in the U.S. 

But under the transportation and housing spending bill, which was approved by a House committee last month, the agency’s funding will be reduced to $100 million.

A group of Democrats in the House attempted to offer an amendment to the GOP bill on Wednesday night that would have restored the Metro funding to its normal levels, but the measure was blocked

Lawmakers representing the D.C. area have argued the cuts come at a particularly bad time, as the Metro system grapples with safety issues. One passenger died in January, after an electrical issue halted a train headed toward Northern Virginia at the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station, while smoke poured into the train cars. More than 80 other passengers trapped in smoke-filled Metrorail cars were injured. 

The D.C.-area delegation promised to try to convince the Senate to overturn the House's decision to cut the Metro's funding. 

“We will work with our House and Senate colleagues to restore this vital funding for Metro safety upgrades as the appropriations process moves forward,” the lawmakers said. 

— This story was updated with new information at 3:49 p.m. 

— Cristina Marcos contributed to this report.