WASHINGTON (AP) - Senate Republicans proposed Tuesday to slash almost $1 billion from a program that helps state and local governments provide affordable housing, but they are balking at cuts to Amtrak.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans proposed Tuesday to slash almost $1 billion from a program that helps state and local governments provide affordable housing, but they are balking at cuts to Amtrak.
The $56 billion measure's sponsor, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, says the cuts to the HOME Investment Partnerships Program were necessary to prevent reductions to a housing rental voucher program for the poor that serves 4.5 million individuals and families. Only $66 million would be available for the HOME program for the upcoming budget year, which Democrats said could result in about 40,000 fewer units being made available in the upcoming budget year.
At the same time the measure preserves $500 million in funding for transportation grants that have roots in President Barack Obama's 2009 economic stimulus bill. The measure rejects House-sought cuts to Amtrak and actually would add $53 million above its current budget to lift the passenger system's funding to almost $1.7 billion.
Collins touted provisions to require the Transportation Department to quickly finalize rules to require truckers to use electronic logging devices to record their hours on the road and to force it to propose rules requiring devices known as speed governors to prevent trucks from flouting the speed limit.
"These rulemakings will go a long way to increasing the level of safety on our nation's roadways," Collins said.
Democrats praised Collins for her efforts but said the bill simply doesn't contain enough money.
"Neglecting transportation and public housing responsibilities at the federal level overburdens states and local communities and leads to more congestion, pollution and job losses," said top Appropriations Committee Democrat Barbara Mikulski of Maryland.
The measure is the latest of the 12 annual spending bills to begin its advance in the Senate but, like the others, is caught in crossfire between Republicans controlling Congress and Obama and his Democratic allies on Capitol Hill. Senate Democrats are using their filibuster power to hold up the spending bills hoping the impasse will drive Republicans to the negotiating table and agree to increases for domestic programs matching those for the Pentagon.
House Democratic leaders Tuesday sent Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, a letter requesting bipartisan budget talks. Instead the GOP-dominated House is going ahead with a floor debate on a deeply partisan measure that slashes the Environmental Protection Agency and tries to curb its moves on global warming, clean water rules and other environmental initiatives.