July 17, 2017

Washington, DC - Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R-VA) released the following statement after the House passed two joint resolutions relating to WMATA—one to lend Congressional approval to the Metro Safety Commission, which passed by a vote of 399 to 5; and another to approve an amendment to the WMATA interstate compact, which passed by a vote of 402 to 0:

“I was pleased to cosponsor and join my regional colleagues in supporting this joint resolution to lend Congressional approval to the Metro Safety Commission—a new interstate compact between Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. The Metro Safety Commission will help improve safety for the entire Metrorail system and these resolutions are important first steps in assuring a safety culture at Metro. I trust we will continue our bipartisan commitment to restore Metro to the system our constituents and our Capitol deserves.

“I am also pleased that the House passed my joint resolution to lend final Congressional approval to an amendment made to the WMATA interstate compact to allow the Secretary of Transportation to appoint WMATA Board Members rather than the GSA. The Secretary of Transportation is, of course, better equipped to appoint professional directors to the WMATA board, and I am pleased to have led this effort to provide the final legal foundation needed for this commonsense amendment to the interstate compact.”

BACKGROUND:

On February 8, 2016, the FTA gave notice that the Metro Safety Commission must be in place and certified by the FTA on or before February 9, 2017. However, this deadline was unable to be met given the schedules of the state legislatures. On February 10, 2017, when the Metro Safety Commission was not yet certified, the FTA announced it would exercise its authority to withhold five percent of federal funds authorized in fiscal year 2017 under the Urbanized Area Apportionments Program, also known as Section 5307. The initial withholding equated to $8.9 million, and is expected to total $15 million if the withholding continues to the end of the current fiscal year. This withholding impacts not only funding for WMATA, but for transit systems.