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METRO LIGHT RAIL PROJECT IN PRESIDENT OBAMA’S 2012 BUDGET PROPOSAL

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), a senior member of the House Homeland Security and Judiciary Committees, spoke to officials at the White House earlier today who informed her that the METRO Light Rail Project she has been working on for more than a decade will be included in President Barack Obama’s proposed budget. The President will present his proposed budget to Congress on Monday.

“During these tough economic times, where we have had to learn to do more with less, and faced much-needed budget cuts, President Obama and his administration find it fitting and necessary to include the METRO Light Rail Project in the 2012 budget,” commented Congresswoman Jackson Lee. “Many programs did not make the cut, but I thank President Obama for his diligent effort in ensuring the METRO Light Rail Project was included in his proposed budget. We must move this project forward in all earnest efforts.

“I must admit, this has been a very difficult year for METRO in Houston,” commented Congresswoman Jackson Lee. “I have worked hand-in-hand with the Department of Transportation, the Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and President Obama to ensure the project was included. The Metro Light Rail Project will create many jobs in the Houston-area, while revitalizing our local economy and enhancing our city’s urban mobility. I am glad that this project will be one of those that Congress has to fund and I will work tirelessly to ensure this happens.

The following is a copy of a letter Congresswoman Jackson Lee sent to President Barack Obama on January 20 urging him to consider funding the METRO Light Rail Project.

January 20, 2011

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

Let me begin by expressing my appreciation for your leadership, hard work and determination to aggressively create jobs to get Americans back to work. I would also like to thank you for your consideration of my request regarding preserving funding for Houston METRO in your budget, which is critical to jobs and the economic recovery of Houston, which according to recent Census numbers is likely the nation’s third largest city and home to the energy and green energy capital of the country and the world renowned Texas Medical Center.

As such, as you consider the Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 budget, I respectfully ask that you carefully examine two active Light Rail construction projects underway in my District in Houston, Texas. These projects exemplify urban mobility, jobs, economic prosperity, energy independence and sustainable growth for our city. The projects are commonly referred to as the North Corridor Line and the Southeast Corridor Line. Both projects are part of the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts program and both are on the cusp of securing Full Funding Grant Agreements. The total federal share for both projects is $900 million. Your Administration recognized the merit of the projects and proposed $150 million for them in the FY2010 budget and $150 million the FY2011 budget. I can assure you that the Houston community greatly appreciates that action.

Furthermore, it is critical that these projects continue to be advanced in your FY2012 budget proposal at the same level so that the construction can proceed and the benefits of the new service can be available to the traveling public as soon as possible. In the FY2011 appropriations legislation that passed the House of Representatives, we were able to secure $150 million for Houston METRO. However, we were unable to preserve this funding in the legislation that passed the Senate, which resulted in the Continuing Resolution passed by Congress at the end of last year not

including this funding or any other funding for specific New Starts projects for Houston METRO. I want to ensure that the funds ultimately distributed by the Federal Transit Administration mirror the priorities laid out in your budget proposal. I urge you to include funding for these projects in your FY2012 budget.

As you know, Houston is known as an international energy hub and global business city. Twenty-six companies on the 2010 Fortune 500 list maintain their headquarters in Houston and many more have administrative operations located in Houston. More than 3,000 firms conduct international business in over 200 countries, making Houston a truly global city. Houston is also a burgeoning leader in the information technology, nanotechnology, aerospace, and health care industries.

The requested funding will benefit the Houston Metro area greatly by creating thousands of jobs for Houstonians. Houston’s expertise in global business and energy will provide the southwest region with an economic boost that will ensure the United States remains an international economic leader. I look forward to working you in addressing our nation’s transportation needs.
I thank you for your consideration, and I thank you in advance for your attention to this important issue.

Very Truly Yours,
Sheila Jackson Lee
Member of Congress


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