Shutdown Coming?

House Republicans: Fund border wall and new tunnel under the Hudson River

National Transportation Urbanism
House Republicans: Fund border wall and new tunnel under the Hudson River. (Courtesy Stephen Melkisethian/Flickr)
House Republicans: Fund border wall and new tunnel under the Hudson River. (Courtesy Stephen Melkisethian/Flickr)

Congressional House Republicans released two separate spending bills detailing proposals that would impact the Gateway Project and the US-Mexico border wall, on Monday and Tuesday respectively.

The House Appropriations Committee unveiled its $56.5 billion Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development bill that budgets $900 million to the Gateway Program, a project many consider critical to the nation’s transportation infrastructure. The Committee’s $44.3 billion Homeland Security bill allocates $1.6 billion to construct the border wall.

In a win for the $24 billion Gateway Program, the spending bill includes $328 million for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor tracks, grants for rail repairs, and direct funding for new Hudson River rail tunnels and the Portal Bridge. (More details on the multifaceted program can be found here.) President Donald Trump’s administration had pulled out of the Gateway Program Development Corporation a week ago, casting doubt on the administration’s support.

According to Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee Rodney Frelinghuysen, the Northeast Corridor from Washington to Boston provides $3 billion to the U.S. economy, making the Gateway Program a priority. “Safe and reliable passenger rail travel through New Jersey and New York City is essential to that economic productivity,” he said in a statement reported by NJ.com.

But one of Trump’s key promises during his presidential campaign—building the much debated and controversial border wall separating the U.S and Mexico—is also one step closer to fruition. The $1.6 billion earmarked for the wall fully meets the White House request for construction funds, according to the committee.

“Globalization, cyber-security, and terrorism are changing our way of life and we need to change with it,” Frelinghuysen said in a press release. “The bill also provides the necessary funding for critical technology and physical barriers to secure our borders.”

The $1.6 billion earmark is also likely to set up a government shutdown when the bill makes it way to the Senate, where Democrats are sure to object to any kind of wall funding.

Funding for both projects is not yet guaranteed. Both bills will have to pass the full House and get approval from the Senate, before getting signed into law by President Trump.

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