Washington, DC--Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY-17) voted for the House-Senate agreement to fund surface transportation through September 2014.  Included in the legislation was an agreement to extend low student loan rates for another year – avoiding the potential doubling of rates next week. The surface transportation bill (H.R.  4838, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) will create millions of construction jobs nationwide, while fixing our deteriorating infrastructure and boosting our economy.

“The agreement helps New York workers and students, but it also provides important assistance to the parts of the state that have been devastated in recent years by flooding – especially areas such as West Nyack, Suffern and Mamaroneck.  While this is far from a perfect bill, it is an example of how compromises can be reached in Congress.   The benefits far outweighed the sacrifices made to secure its passage – which is the definition of compromise.  This bill will enhance safety, promote economic development and reduce congestion.  It makes concessions, but shows what we can do once we work together,” said Rep. Engel.

He added, “With the bill’s passage, there will be thousands of construction workers in New York taken off the unemployment lines and placed into stable jobs.  Our nation’s infrastructure will get a desperately needed influx of funding to make improvements, increasing the safety of our residents.  College students will avoid a devastating doubling of their student interest rates, at a time when college students are graduating into one of the worse job markets in history. This change will save over $1000 each for approximately 7.4 million students.  We had to pass these agreements and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the future to make subsequent deals even more beneficial to our workers, our students and our nation.”

The Surface Transportation agreement will do the following for New Yorkers:

  • Funding for New York from 2012-2014 will be over $1.6 billion for each year.
  • Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) – This portion of the package contains an increase in funding from $122 million in the current law to $750 million in 2013, and $1 billion in 2013.  It also increases the maximum federal share of project costs from 33 to 49 percent.  New York has a pending request for $2 billion for assistance in replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge.
  • Public Transportation – The bill maintains New York’s share of public transportation funding.  After factoring in everything, funding to New York will increase by $200 million and help in repair, rehabilitation and replacement needs for public transportation.

The Student Loan agreement includes the following details:

  • Keeps rates at 3.4 percent and avoids an increase to 6.8 percent.
  • The 7.4 million students will avoid an overall $6.3 billion increase in debt burden for one year.
  • The blocking of the rate hike is fully paid for in ways that do not devastate women’s health.