Dems target DC-area GOP rep on Metro funding

Dems target DC-area GOP rep on Metro funding

Democrats are targeting Northern Virginia Rep. Barbara ComstockBarbara Jean ComstockDems win Virginia state Senate special election Dem rep asks for asks for pay to be withheld during shutdown New Dem lawmaker hangs trans flag outside office on Capitol Hill MORE over her stance on funding issues related to the Washington, D.C., Metrorail subway system. 

Comstock, the lone Republican in the metro D.C.-area congressional delegation, is seeking to highlight her efforts to preserve federal funding for the capital area transit agency as she prepares for an expected tight race for her seat in 2016. 

Democrats have identified Comstock as a target to potentially knock off in a presidential year, which will have higher voter turnout. They have sought to remind voters of her past opposition to funding for Metro's new Silver Line in Northern Virginia to soften her up for the upcoming election. 


The Democratic Party of Virginia said Wednesday that it would distribute literature about Comstock's positions on the Silver Line, which opened in 2014, at Metro's new Tysons Corner station. 

"Tomorrow, Northern Virginians will hand out flyers at the NORTH entrance of the Tysons Corner Metro Station to remind WMATA riders that Congresswoman Barbara Comstock opposed funding the Silver Line and other measures to reduce traffic congestion in Northern Virginia," state Democratic party officials said in an announcement of the event. 

"Though Congresswoman Comstock has attempted to pretend that she has always supported WMATA funding, Northern Virginians will remind voters of Rep. Comstock's real record of voting against important transportation measures," the Virginia Democratic Party continued.

Jeff Marschner, Comstock’s deputy chief of staff, said in a statement that she "has worked with her Northern Virginia colleagues in Congress to provide more funding for Metro,” as well as on a long-term infrastructure funding bill.

“Partisan operatives from the DCCC continue to flail and make the same misleading, negative, and failed attacks they’ve lobbed through four elections,” Marschner said.

Comstock, who represents a swing district, is a former member of the Virginia House of Delegates who was elected to Congress in 2014. Democrats say is vulnerable on the Metro funding issue because she voted against state funding for the Silver Line expansion as a state legislator before she began championing the agency's cause in Washington. Comstock allies note she won her 2014 election by 16 points.

Since joining Congress, Comstock has railed against a proposed cut in federal funding for the Metrorail system, which is the second busiest subway in the U.S. She rode a train on the agency’s new Silver Line with Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in May to highlight her support for the funding. 

The federal government typically provides about $150 million annually to the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA), the agency that operates the D.C. Metro system. 

A $55 billion funding bill for the departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development that was unveiled by the House Appropriations Committee in the spring would reduce the funding to $75 million

Comstock said when the measure was introduced that the funding cut would make Metro trains less safe for passengers in her Northern Virginia district.

“This $150 million, it’s important to understand, is designed for new rail cars and for safety measures,” she said at the May event. “This is the way we’re going to make sure we update and improve the entire system.” 

Democrats sense an opportunity use the Metro funding debate to paint Comstock as an opportunist. 

"Today, northern Virginia Congresswoman Barbara Comstock is riding the Silver Line and calling for more federal funding for the WMATA public transportation system,” the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said in a flier that was distributed to reporters after Comstock spoke at Metro’s Wiehle-Reston East station in May.  

“But don’t let her take you for a ride with this charade: Comstock has voted repeatedly against transportation funding while she was in the Virginia House of Delegates,” the flier continued. 

—Last updated at 8:01 p.m.