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Congressmen form united front against transportation bill

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Illinois Congressmen from both parties joined with Chicago transit officials Monday to criticize a House transportation funding bill that would cut hundreds of millions of dollars from roadway and mass transit projects in the state.

Rep. Bob Dold, R-Ill., and Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., said the House Republican-backed American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012, which narrowly passed the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, would cut $650 million in funding for Illinois roadways.

They said it puts at risk another $450 million for public transportation funding, because it makes mass transit programs compete for a 20 percent share of the motor fuel tax and other user fees from the highway trust fund that have been guaranteed for 30 years.

Dold said going against his own party is the right thing to do.

“Now there’s no question that we need to tighten our belt, but I still think there are opportunities to tighten our belt and fund our priorities, of which transportation has to be one,” said Dold.

“They’re investments that we have to make. It would be very short-sighted not to make these investments today,” said Lipinski.

Both lawmakers said the $260 billion transportation funding bill is expected to come up in the House for a vote this week.

Lipinski said the bill in its current form doesn’t have the votes to pass the House and would be dead on arrival in the Senate.

An alternative transportation bill is being considered in the Senate.

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