WASHINGTON, DC - This afternoon, Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05) gave brief remarks at a House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations hearing on the funding, oversight, and reform efforts of WMATA. Below is a transcript of his remarks:
“All of us continue to be deeply saddened, of course, by the loss of our colleague, and friend, and a great American, and a great Member of this body, Elijah Cummings. We worked closely together on so many things, and I know that this Committee mourns his loss deeply.
“I appreciate the opportunity to join the Members of this Subcommittee today to ensure that Congress is conducting its proper oversight of the Metro system, which serves our nation’s capital and the greater Washington region, part of which I obviously represent. I’m proud to represent many of its suburban communities in Maryland, a district home to 62,000 federal employees, many of whom rely on Metro to commute to their place of employment every day.
“Approximately one-third of Metro’s riders during peak hours are federal workers, and the majority of Metrorail stations serve federal facilities, making the system a critical lifeline for our nation’s government workers. So many of our predecessors with whom I’ve worked viewed, particularly [Rep. William] Lehman from Florida who chaired the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, viewed our subway as America’s subway because not only do a lot of federal workers use it, but millions of tourists use our system as well.
“The efficient and responsive operations of our government depends on ensuring that federal employees in the greater Washington Metropolitan Area have a safe, reliable, and effective transit system. In the past few years, we’ve seen major improvements in safety and reliability, though, of course, there is much still to be done.
“I find it very reassuring that [WMATA General Manager and CEO Paul] Wiedefeld, our leader [of WMATA], has been working closely with Raymond Jackson, the new President of the ATU Local, and that they have been able to improve the relationship between WMATA and its workers. After all, the administration and those who implement the policies on a day to day basis are critically important in improving and maintaining safety in our system. I appreciate that very much, and I know riders will appreciate it as well.
“Mr. Chairman, I was proud to work closely with Mr. Wiedefeld and with the union and with commuter advocates to introduce legislation in 2017, with your partnership and [Rep. Eleanor Holmes] Norton and others from our region, to provide Congressional authorization for the Metro Safety Commission and to support its work.
“Safety for riders and employees must remain Metro’s number-one priority. That’s why I am committed, Mr. Chairman – as I know you are, as I know Ms. Norton is, and I know the Members of this Committee on both sides of the aisle are committed – to pursuing continued improvements in safety and reliability.
“I thank the witnesses. Mr. Chairman, before you came in I had the opportunity to say hello to them individually, and I thank them for coming here today to share an update with the Subcommittee and with the Congress, and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues, with Metro, with the workers’ union, and with rider advocates to ensure that Metro continues improving and can achieve the highest standards of safety and reliability.
“As you probably know Mr. Chairman, the head of our transit system, Mr. Wiedefeld, was in Maryland for a long period of time and did an outstanding, extraordinary job there. I know [Rep. John] Sarbanes knows that as well. I thank you for this opportunity to be here at this important hearing.”