Earlier this year, Democrats tried to spend more than $100 million to extend a subway from San Francisco—not far from the Speaker of the House’s congressional district—to Silicon Valley. While Speaker Pelosi successfully snuck this earmark into a strictly partisan House bill, the pet project was fortunately dropped from their nearly $2 trillion package.
To date, this very same project has received $225 million from the federal government—a fraction of the $1.7 billion requested from the U.S. Department of Transportation to complete the subway extension. And if that wasn’t enough, the price of the project has ballooned to nearly $6.9 billion and it’s already three to four years behind schedule with construction expected to begin next year. The extension will likely dig the subway system, expected to lose as much as $200 million over the next decade, even deeper into the hole.
Let’s put these dollars into perspective. Iowa receives around $523 million per year from the federal government for roads and bridges, and the state’s total transportation budget over five years is $3.6 billion. That means this California subway project costs nearly double Iowa’s entire transportation budget.
This rail project is a bottomless pit of taxpayer money.
It isn’t fair to force taxpayers in Iowa and elsewhere to pay the fare for this good-for-nothing subway service. And while Washington Democrats keep spending like there’s no tomorrow, American taxpayers shouldn’t be stuck with the bill for bottomless boondoggles that are already a billion dollars or more in the hole before even breaking ground on construction.
It’s time to put a halt on runaway taxpayer spending for some of the most wasteful government projects in existence—like Speaker Pelosi’s subway. That’s why I’m leading the Put the Brakes on Boondoggles Act, which would cut off any new federal financial assistance to a rail or transit project that is projected to be over $1 billion of the original cost projection and to lose money annually for a decade or more.
As Congress debates a true, bipartisan infrastructure bill, it’s important to ensure these rail and transit boondoggles, like Speaker Pelosi’s over-budget and behind schedule gravy train, don’t receive any more federal funding. That’s why I’m going to work to get my legislation included in the infrastructure bill. It’s commonsense, and I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will agree that we should protect taxpayers from having to grease the wheels of gravy trains that are already on the wrong track before they have even left the station.
Joni Ernst, a native of Red Oak and a combat veteran, represents Iowa in the United States Senate.