Sen. Bob Mendendez on what high-speed rail means for area jobs
“High-speed rail is right along the lines of what we need,” said Sen. Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey). “It’s what the world is doing. It’s what China is doing. It’s what London is doing.”
Menendez says this is about competing in the world market “and a real opportunity to get our people to places of work, to get our businesses to send their sales force along the northeast corridor.”
Menendez and fellow New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg resuscitated the much-debated project Tuesday.
But he says, even with President Barack Obama’s commitment, a high-speed rail network will still need states to pitch in funds.
Obama is calling for a six-year, $53 billion spending plan for high-speed rail, as he seeks to use infrastructure spending to jump-start job creation.
An initial $8 billion in spending will be part of the budget plan Obama is set to release Monday. If Congress approves the plan, the money would go toward developing or improving trains that travel up to 250 mph, and connecting existing rail lines to new projects. The White House wouldn’t say where the money for the rest of the program would come from, though it’s likely Obama would seek funding in future budgets or transportation bills.
During last month’s State of the Union address, Obama said he wanted to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail within 25 years.
Video: Shanghai high-speed maglev train goes 267 mph (461 kph)
Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday the administration wouldn’t compromise when it comes to spending on the infrastructure, education and innovation programs Obama is touting.
“We cannot compromise. The rest of the world is not compromising,” Biden said in Philadelphia at an event announcing the high-speed rail initiative.
Thus far, Obama’s plans to increase spending on high-speed rail have received a chilly a reception from Republicans. House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica, R-Fla., urged the administration Tuesday to focus its spending on the crowded Northeast rail corridor, and not “squander limited taxpayer dollars on marginal projects.”
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