Gateway rail project could get $541M in omnibus despite Trump's objections

Gateway rail project could get $541M in omnibus despite Trump's objections
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A massive rail project in the New York metro region could tap up to $541 million in federal funding within the impending omnibus spending bill, despite President TrumpDonald John TrumpSanders urges impeachment trial 'quickly' in the Senate US sending 20,000 troops to Europe for largest exercises since Cold War Barr criticizes FBI, says it's possible agents acted in 'bad faith' in Trump probe MORE’s objections.

A source familiar with the matter said the funds would not need approval from the Transportation Department, which previously said it opposes financing the Gateway project in the spending package set to be unveiled later Wednesday.

Amtrak will likely be able to contribute a minimum of $388 million to Gateway using its Northeast Corridor Account, while New York and New Jersey will receive another $153 million from the Federal Transit Administration’s High-Density States and State of Good Repair grant programs, according to the source.

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The current number is the result of ongoing negotiations over the project’s funding and means the program will receive 60 percent of the original federal dollars intended for it within the omnibus.

A senior administration official pushed back on the $541 million figure, saying it “overlooks” that the Transportation Department must evaluate the Capital Spending of Amtrak. That official also pointed out that the State of Good Repair program is a discretionary grant program that could provide funding to "a wide range of potential eligible projects."

Trump earlier this month threatened to veto the spending bill if it included funds for Gateway, a rail reconstruction effort that has bipartisan support from New York and New Jersey lawmakers, making the program a sticking point within discussions over the omnibus legislation.

New York and New Jersey Republicans had been appealing to Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanHouse Ethics Committee informs Duncan Hunter he can no longer vote after guilty plea Duncan Hunter pleads guilty after changing plea Trump campaign steps up attacks on Biden MORE (R-Wis.) for help.

Under the upcoming omnibus, Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor Account will receive $650 million in total for projects throughout the region. The source familiar with the matter said the Transportation Department "would have limited ability to withhold the funding."

Meanwhile, the Gateway program can compete for additional money through the Capital Investment Grants (CIG) program. The grant program, known as “New Starts,” will get $2.645 billion. 

Gateway currently has two pending applications for the grants, to replace the Portal Bridge over New Jersey’s Hackensack River and for the Hudson Tunnel Project.

Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoPelosi gets standing ovation at Kennedy Center Honors Lobbying world Democratic chairman presses Transportation secretary over transparency in Boeing 737 Max probe MORE in recent weeks has argued that New York and New Jersey should put up more money for Gateway, which they are seeking to finance using government loans and local funding.

Updated at 8:59 p.m.