Rep. John Katko slams Democrats for ‘partisan’ $547B surface transportation bill

Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., questions Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Peter Gaynor as he testifies before a House Committee on Homeland Security meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 22, 2020, on the national response to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

U.S. Rep. John Katko blasted House Democrats on Thursday for advancing what he described as a “partisan messaging bill.”

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved legislation that would provide $547 billion for surface transportation over a five-year period. The bill includes $343 billion for roads and bridges, $109 billion for transit and $95 billion for freight and passenger rail. 

The committee met Thursday to review the bill and that’s when Katko, who has served on the panel since 2015, criticized the legislation and his Democratic colleagues. He believes that Democrats should pursue a bipartisan agreement similar to a bill that advanced in the Senate Energy and Public Works Committee in May. That measure, he said, received unanimous bipartisan support after months of negotiations. 

“The bill itself includes substantive and historic investments in our surface transportation, funding for transformative infrastructure projects in both rural and urban communities, and well-rounded policies to increase safety while meeting the needs of different surface users,” Katko, R-Camillus, said of the Senate bill. “Critically, the bill includes consensus-driven policies derived from each side’s priorities, such as streamlining federal permitting to promote project delivery or investing in resiliency in the face of climate change.” 

Katko has been involved in talks about a broader infrastructure package. In March, he met with President Joe Biden at the White House to discuss ideas for a bipartisan infrastructure plan. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan invited him to a summit in April that focused on the need for significant infrastructure investments. 

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