NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Senator Charles Schumer has come up with a novel way to break the Washington logjam over funding for the critically needed rail tunnels under the Hudson River, otherwise known as the Gateway Project.
You might call it the “Shhhh, don’t tell President Donald Trump” plan for squeezing funds out of Washington to rebuild the 100-year-old North River tunnels.
“In a brutally competitive national and global economic marketplace we cannot afford to let the most vital link of our regional transportation network waste away. That’s economic suicide,” Schumer told reporters on Monday, including CBS2’s Marcia Kramer.
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And since he wants the region to thrive — not die — Senate Minority Leader Schumer has hatched a “work-around” plan to overcome the president’s refusal to fund Gateway. It calls for the governors of New York and New Jersey to advance money for the project, then be reimbursed by the feds, included in a bill the president would hopefully have no choice but to sign.
“We would make it automatic, not subject to any approval by the legislation,” Schumer said. “Now, he would have to sign the big budget bill we’ll put this in, but I don’t think he’d veto the budget bill and risk another shutdown over this.”
A spokesman for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who sent President Trump a video of the old, storm-damaged tunnels, then met with him, reaffirmed his commitment to split the cost of the project with New Jersey, saying, “The consequences of inaction would be catastrophic.”
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is also on board, saying of the project, “The political gridlock preventing its federal approval is unacceptable.”
Schumer said he will draft the legislation with input from the New York and New Jersey delegations.
When asked if Schumer and the plan can get around the president, New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez said, “I think we can do it because the reality is that Gateway has been kept alive by state delegation in the monies that we have included in the appropriate process, notwithstanding that the president has been in opposition.”
Last week, frustrated congressmen introduced a “doomsday” bill that wold require the federal government to have a contingency plan in case the tunnels fail. The Regional Plan Association said a tunnel failure would cost the economy $16 billion and reduce local home values by $22 billion.