Bipartisan transportation bill funds jobs, federal programs PASSAGE DEFIES TRUMP’S CUTS IN TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE In a strong bipartisan move that defied Trump Administration calls for deep cuts in all such programs, Congress passed a spending agreement that secures and even increases transportation funding. The legislation—broadly supported, even by many in the President’s own Republican majority—prevents the loss of tens of thousands of jobs; the elimination of long-distance train service; and a freeze on railway, road and bridge infrastructure upgrades. Specifics for Sheet Metal, Transportation members The detailed bill covers many programs that fund or will create jobs for SMART members and includes several of particular interest to our varied union. • One important spending increase was an additional $570,000 for the National Mediation Board, something SMART has been seeking to reduce the backlog of rail-related arbitration cases. • For California members, the funds included $100 million for Caltrain electrification. This project—previously placed on hold by the Trump-led Department of Transportation— will begin immediately with federal funds guaranteed until the end of FY 2017. The Caltrain improvements—to both infrastructure and rolling stock—could also bring SMART ongoing jobs across the commuter rail system. • For our Great Lakes pilot and flight attendant members, the Essential Air Service (EAS) program for rural communities was fully funded, something President Trump’s budget also proposed to eliminate. • For bus members, funding for the Federal Transit Administration—slated by the Trump White House for a major decrease—was increased by $236 million, with an additional $2.4 billion included for transit Capital Investment Grants. The omnibus spending bill also permanently ensures health care for nearly 22,000 retired Union mine workers hit by the decline of coal production in the Appalachian region. SMART General President Joseph Sellers Jr. remarked that “we applaud Congress for this strong focus on ensuring America’s transportation infrastructure remains fully funded and maintained.” Sellers went on to focus on that fact that “this omnibus legislation will prevent the loss of thousands of jobs and serve as a down payment on future transportation gains we must make to keep America’s competitive edge on the world stage.”
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