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Hoyer Floor Remarks in Support of Legislation to Establish the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05) spoke on the Floor of the House of Representatives this evening in support of H.J.Res. 76, a resolution introduced by Congressman Hoyer to establish the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission. The legislation passed the House of Representatives 399 to 5. Below is a video and a transcript of his remarks:

Click here to watch a video of his remarks.

“I thank the gentleman for yielding. I was tempted to stop at that podium – one of my Republican predecessors used to come over here a long time ago, and speak to Democrats from this podium and then walk back and speak to his Republican colleagues.

“This is truly something that both podiums support, it is a bipartisan effort. I was privileged to work with Congresswoman Comstock’s predecessor [former Congressman] Frank Wolf, and we worked arm and arm, hip to hip, shoulder to shoulder for a decade, with Republican Administrations, both the Reagan Administration and with the Bush Administration, the first Bush Administration. This truly is a bipartisan effort to enhance America’s subway. I say America’s subway because not only do our people use it that live in the region, but millions of Americans who come to Washington, DC to see their capital, use their Metro system.

“I’m proud to be the sponsor of this resolution and urge my colleagues to support it. People throughout the National Capital Region depend on Metro to get to work, reach family and friends, and access shopping and entertainment - as so many of my colleagues have already said. It’s the lifeblood of the area’s economy. Nobody probably knows that better than [Congressman] Gerry Connolly, who was the head of one of the largest subdivisions in our region, and knows how critically important Metro is to our region. Metro, I’ve referred to it as ‘the ties that bind the Washington metropolitan area together,’ is used by millions of visitors to our nation’s capital who come from across the country. It is critical to the functioning of our federal government, with federal employees making up nearly 40% of its ridership. They and many military personnel rely on Metro to get to their offices and duty stations on time so they can serve the American people.

“As anyone who spends time in this city knows, Metro has had its share of challenges, including, of course, safety issues that have prompted an ambitious overhaul of safety procedures and infrastructure, which was absolutely necessary, and too long in coming. Safety must continue to be Metro’s number one priority, both for its passengers and for its employees.

“Our resolution, Mr. Speaker, and when I refer to our, the entire metropolitan delegation, would provide a Congressional consent for the establishment of a Metro Safety Commission, Ms. Comstock spoke of that, Mr. Raskin has spoken of that, I’m sure others will as well. Which will provide real enforcement teeth to our region’s commitment to enhancing Metro’s safety.

“The Safety Commission is being launched jointly by Congress, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. I want to thank Mrs. [Eleanor Holmes] Norton, who her herself has worked so long and so effectively on behalf of Washington Metro’s system, thank you very much Congresswoman Norton. The Federal Transit Administration is currently withholding approximately $8.9 million, which Ms. Comstock referred to. This step will be a significant step in making sure that that $8.9 million is released. Maryland, Virginia, and DC have all given their approval already – the Virginia legislature, the Maryland legislature, and the DC Council, the DC legislature. Now it is up to Congress.

“But today’s resolution is not an end, it is an important step, but not an end. It must signal an ongoing commitment across the region to Metro, and yes by the Congress itself. I believe that if Metro is to become safer and more reliable, it must have a dedicated funding source. That’s not the issue in this resolution, but it is the issue before Metro and our region and before our country. That’s why I will continue to push for more federal investment in Metro and for WMATA to have every resource it needs to keep its riders and employees safe, which is to say, all of the American people who use it on their visits here, as well as those of us who live here.

“I want to thank each of the Members of our delegation, our regional delegation, which works together on behalf of the region. And I want to thank in particular Senator Tim Kaine from Virginia, who sponsored this legislation on the Senate side. We have all been working hard to ensure this resolution comes to the Floor, and to make sure all stakeholders have been at the table. And I thank my delegation, the regional delegation, and I thank Mr. [Bob] Goodlatte for bringing this resolution to the Floor in a timely fashion. And I thank certainly one of our newest Members, but one of our most able Members, Mr. Raskin. And I yield back the balance of my time.”

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