Today, May 1, 2019, Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to renew his call for full funding of the region’s most critical infrastructure project, the 110-year-old Gateway Tunnel, and to address his bipartisan Anti-Congestion Tax Act to fight back against New York’s congestion tax.
Gottheimer has introduced bipartisan legislation with Congressman Peter King (NY-2) requiring the U.S. Department of Transportation to outline their plan for a “Doomsday” contingency scenario if one of the tunnels under the Hudson shuts down.
“I hope the Committee will have a hearing on the ‘Doomsday’ bill, so it can hear from the Department of Transportation on whether it even has a plan to minimize economic and national security impacts to the Northeast region by keeping the Gateway Project on track,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5).
Gottheimer has also announced bipartisan legislation with Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-4) to encourage New York to reconsider its congestion tax on New Jersey commuters.
“When we work together, New Jersey and New York are a tough combination to beat. But we need real, concrete action to save our residents their hard-earned money,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “Today, I respectfully call on you, the Members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, to do everything in your power to help stop the outrageous congestion tax, and ensure that our economy stays on track.”
View the video of the testimony here.
Congressman Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for deliver are below:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Mr. Ranking Member, thank you so much, and to the members of the Committee, I really appreciate you hosting this important for hearing and for having us here today. I am here to discuss the most pressing infrastructure need in the country, the Gateway Project, which is the literal passage to nearly the entire Northeast Regional economy.
Currently, the North River Tunnel, which is more than a century old, is the only way in and out of Manhattan for the 200,000 daily passengers that commute between New Jersey and New York City. This tunnel connects a region that makes up 20% of America’s GDP.
But here’s the problem, and I’ve seen this with my own eyes in the tunnel and I’m hopefully going to go back again Thursday night: the 110-year-old tunnels into New York City are literally crumbling. There is one track in and one track out. The Chairman of Amtrak said himself that one of the tunnels would likely have to be shut down within the next 5 years.
If one tunnel does shut down, America would lose $100 million every day, according to the Northeast Corridor Commission. That’s a significant impact on the national economy.
That’s why I introduced my bipartisan legislation with Representative Peter King from New York requiring the US Department of Transportation to outline their plan for a “Doomsday” contingency scenario if one of the tunnels under the Hudson has to shut down. I hope the Committee will have a hearing on H.R. 1667, the Preventing Doomsday Act, so it can hear from the Department of Transportation on whether it even has a plan to minimize economic and national security impacts to the Northeast region by keeping the Gateway Project on track. How will people get in and out of New York City every day who come from my District of Northern New Jersey, and how will they get home at night to see their families.
As you see from our bipartisan, interstate cooperation on this issue, New York and New Jersey have a long, historic working relationship on all matters, especially those involving transportation and infrastructure. So, it was quite my surprise when, last month, the New York State legislature announced a budget deal that would include a new congestion tax targeting New Jersey commuters, many of the people in my district, who by the way already pay New York quite a bit of income tax for the time they work there.
Under this new plan, when commuters go across the George Washington Bridge and drive into Midtown Manhattan, they will be whacked, not just with bridge tolls, but now with an additional congestion tax when they drive south of 60th Street. That’s absurd double taxation at its finest. Even more galling, unlike the shared Port Authority resources from bridge tolls that help New York and New Jersey together, each nickel of the new congestion tax will go to New York, to their MTA, to help fix their subways – noting to Jersey, nothing for our shared, cooperative relationship.
That’s why I introduced bipartisan legislation with Republican Chris Smith, to encourage New York to reconsider their new, outrageous congestion tax on New Jersey commuters.
The Anti-Congestion Tax Act – or, as I like to also call it, the Manhattan Moocher Prevention Act, takes two concrete actions.
First, the Anti-Congestion Tax Act will prohibit the Secretary of Transportation from awarding any new Capital Investment Grants to MTA projects in New York until drivers from all three New Jersey crossings into Manhattan receive exemptions from this outrageous congestion tax.
Second, the legislation will amend the Internal Revenue Code to offer drivers a federal tax credit at the end of the year equal to the amount paid in congestion taxes entering Manhattan from any of the three New Jersey crossings. This will protect New Jersey drivers from double taxation, and try to keep things more affordable.
When we work together, New Jersey and New York are a tough combination to beat. But we need real, concrete action to save our residents their hard-earned money.
Today, I respectfully ask the Committee, the Members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, to do everything in your power to address these pressing issues, and ensure that our economy stays on track, and stops the congestion tax that’s being proposed.
Thank you so much for having me.