RELEASE: Gottheimer, Lawler Announce New Bipartisan Legislation to Fight NY & MTA’s $23/Day Congestion Tax

Bipartisan Anti-Congestion Act Will Help Stop New York & MTA from Mooching Off Hardworking Families. Defunding the MTA if New York Implements the Congestion Tax.

 

Above: Gottheimer and Lawler next to the George Washington Bridge today announcing new bipartisan legislation to fight the MTA’s Congestion Tax.

FORT LEE, NJ — Today, January 19, 2023, U.S. Representatives Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) and Mike Lawler (NY-17) announced new bipartisan legislation — the Anti-Congestion Tax Act — to stand up for hardworking New Jersey and New York drivers who will soon face the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) cash-grabbing Congestion Tax. New York and the MTA’s proposed Congestion Tax could go into effect as early as this year. New York City and the MTA are playing Russian roulette with their economy, and are willing to stick it to all of those hard-working commuters from Jersey, the outer boroughs, and the New York City suburbs.

The Congestion Tax would cost Jersey and New York drivers up to $23 dollars a day — more than $5,000 a year — on top of the already far-too-high $16-a-day tolls for our bridges and tunnels, to drive to work or visit New York City south of 60th Street. No revenue from the Congestion Tax goes to support NJ Transit, PATH, or New Jersey in any way, unlike the shared Port Authority tolls.

The bipartisan Anti-Congestion Tax Act will:

  1. Prohibit the U.S. Department of Transportation from awarding any new Capital Investment Grants to MTA projects in New York until drivers from all New Jersey and New York crossings into Manhattan receive exemptions from any Congestion Tax. 
  2. Amend the U.S. tax code to offer commuters a federal tax credit at the end of the year equal to the amount they paid in a Congestion Tax. This will protect both New Jersey and New York drivers.

The bipartisan Anti-Congestion Tax Act is being introduced by Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) and cosponsored by Congressman Jeff Van Drew (NJ-2) and Congressman Mike Lawler (NY-17).

The MTA received $15 billion in federal COVID dollars and receives approximately $2 billion annually from the federal government. Yet, the MTA’s woeful mismanagement and lax enforcement of fare collection has led to a $2 billion budget deficit.

“New York City and the MTA are playing Russian roulette with their economy, and are willing to stick it to all of those hard-working commuters from Jersey, the outer boroughs, and the New York City suburbs, like my friend Congressman Lawler represents, with their absurd $23 a day Congestion Tax plan. A plan that, by the MTA’s own admission, won’t reduce congestion or pollution – in fact, it will increase both, including right here in Fort Lee, and, as the MTA put it, will disproportionately impact low-income drivers.” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “Just read MTA spelled backwards and it tells you exactly how the MTA looks at New Jersey, outer borough, and other suburban New York drivers right now: as their personal ATM. Enough is enough.”

“For too long, Hudson Valley commuters have gotten the short end of the stick. With reduced service, no one-seat ride for Rockland County residents, and subways that have become increasingly dangerous, it’s no wonder that ridership is down as more folks commute into the city by car or by telecommuting. Which is why congestion pricing, a ludicrous tax grab by the country’s most mismanaged authority, should be stopped dead in its tracks. Today, I’m proud to stand with Congressman Gottheimer as we reintroduce this bipartisan piece of legislation to prevent the MTA from taking any more money out of the pockets of commuters who have no choice but to travel by car. Billions of dollars of waste, fraud, and abuse exists at the MTA. Where did that money go? Until they get their house in order and stop this cash grab, they shouldn’t get another dime in capital grant money,” said Congressman Mike Lawler (NY-17).

Gottheimer was joined today in Fort Lee by Congressman Mike Lawler (NY-17), Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, and Fort Lee Councilman Bryan Drumgoole.

Video of the announcement can be found here.

Find legislative text of the bipartisan Anti-Congestion Tax Act here

Below: Gottheimer and Lawler announcing new bipartisan legislation to fight the MTA’s Congestion Tax. 

 

Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
 
Good morning! It’s great to be back in Fort Lee just feet from the George Washington Bridge. This is my first time here as the Congressman representing this great community – the world’s busiest bridge, and a key artery between the New Jersey and New York economies. 
 
A quarter of America’s entire GDP runs through the Northeast. Nearly 300,000 cars and trucks cross over this bridge every day, helping bring New York City billions in tax revenue and billions more for their small businesses every year. More than a million commuters go into work in Manhattan from the outer boroughs and outside the city. According to studies, nearly seven in 10 people employed in Manhattan commuted from another county. 
 
Yet, we are here this morning because New York City and the MTA are playing Russian roulette with their economy, and are willing to stick it to all of those hard-working commuters from Jersey, the outer boroughs, and the New York City suburbs, like my friend Congressman Lawler represents, with their absurd $23 a day Congestion Tax plan.  A plan that, by the MTA’s own admission, won’t reduce congestion or pollution – in fact, it will increase both, including right here in Fort Lee, and, as the MTA put it, will disproportionately impact low-income drivers. More trucks and pollution here and in the outer boroughs, more traffic north of 60th Street.
 
And, despite pleas from so many of us, from taxi drivers to nurses, to New York’s small businesses, the MTA is barreling ahead, with zero indication that they’re going to hit the brakes.
 
So, what do we do about the MTA’s plan to get all of us to pay for their years of mismanagement and corruption? How do we stop their $23-a-day, $5,000 a year tax that will whack commuters and families like those Mike and I represent for driving south of 60th street? 
 
Every nickel of it to the MTA – nothing to NJ Transit or a single road in the Hudson Valley.
 
Can you imagine a hard-working nurse or taxi driver from Jersey having to pay $5,000 a year on top of the $16 dollars they pay to go over the GW Bridge? If you add gas and parking, that’s $20,000 a year. It’s the ultimate MTA cash grab for an agency with a $2 billion deficit, despite getting billions from the federal government every day and $15 billion extra during COVID. They seem to have blown all of it, by the way, as if they were on an all-night bender. 
 
The MTA is so bureaucratic and such a mismanaged agency riddled with corruption that a judge described it as an “orgy of overtime fraud.” Studies show they will lose $500 million this year alone from fare skippers. 
 
That’s why Congressman Lawler and I are here this morning — to stand up for hardworking New Jersey and New York drivers and commuters — for the nurse and the restaurant worker – often with no other option but to drive to work — who will soon face the MTA’s cash-grabbing Congestion Tax. 
 
We’re here together today to announce new bipartisan federal legislation — the Anti-Congestion Tax Act — to help ensure New Jersey and New York drivers who commute into New York City are not hit with this regressive, punitive Congestion Tax.
 
Our Anti-Congestion Tax legislation will freeze federal dollars sent each year to the MTA — which totals approximately $2 billion a year — if the agency insists on barreling ahead with this $23-dollar-a-day tax. 
 
The bipartisan Anti-Congestion Tax will prohibit the U.S. Department of Transportation from awarding any new Capital Investment Grants to MTA projects in New York until drivers from all New Jersey and outer borough New York crossings into Manhattan receive exemptions from any Congestion Tax. And it will amend the U.S. tax code to offer commuters a federal tax credit at the end of the year equal to the amount they paid in a Congestion Tax. This will protect both Jersey and New York drivers from this absurd new tax.
 
The good news is that this legislative approach is not without precedent. In 1985, Congressman Guy Molinari [MOLE-IN-ARE-EE] from Staten Island used the same idea to push New York to change its tolling practices on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. He inserted a provision into a federal funding bill that removed two-way tolling on the bridge and instituted a one-way toll only going into Brooklyn and Staten Island. He got it done.
 
As long as Congressman Lawler and I are around, along with others like my friend Congresswoman Nicole Malliatokis and Congressman Jeff Van Drew who is co-leading this legislation, we will do everything we can to fight the Congestion Tax. There is nothing partisan about this. 
 
It’s why there’s been such an outcry of opposition, from people we represent to the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. They are all rightly concerned about what this insane tax will do to New York City’s economy and to small businesses and stores.
 
For those who say, why not just take public transit? — the answer is simple: unfortunately, for many people who live in North Jersey and the outer boroughs of New York and beyond, there just aren’t as many mass transit options. For far too many towns in northern Jersey, it’s a mass transit desert. And for the naysayers, I’m happy to take you on a tour of Jersey and show you first-hand.
 
Just read MTA spelled backwards and it tells you exactly how the MTA looks at New Jersey, outer borough, and other suburban New York drivers right now: as their personal ATM. Enough is enough.
 
When we work together, New Jersey and New York are a tough combination to beat. Look at how well we’ve cooperated for more than a hundred years at the Port Authority.  
 
But, from the way it looks, the MTA is going to force us to continue to fight.
 
Thank you again and may God bless you and may God continue to bless the United States of America.
 

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