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Reps. Nadler and Sires Lead Letter Urging Financial Assistance for Port Authority

Washington, May 20, 2020

New York, NY — Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ) led a bipartisan group of New York and New Jersey Members in a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) expressing strong support for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s request for $3 billion in federal assistance and requesting that future stimulus packages ensure that critical Congressionally created multi-state entities like the Port Authority are not unintentionally excluded.

The letter details the decreased ridership and higher operational costs that have led to unprecedented revenue loss for the Port Authority. The letter further highlights that the Port Authority was envisioned as a financially free-standing and independent entity, and it does not rely on federal funding from New York or New Jersey.  

Representatives Nadler and Sires were joined on the letter by Representatives Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ), Andy Kim (D-NJ), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Grace Meng (D-NY), Kathleen M. Rice (D-NY), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Lee Zeldin (R-NY), Thomas R. Suozzi (D-NY), Antonio Delgado (D-NY), Brian Higgins (D-NY), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Peter T. King (R-NY), Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY), Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), John Katko (R-NY), and Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ).

"Our region cannot function without a fully operational Port Authority," said Rep. Nadler. "Not only do the tens of millions of people who live and work in the New York and New Jersey metropolitan region depend on the Port Authority for their daily commutes, the Port Authority employs thousands and is integral to New York and New Jersey's economy. Our states cannot expect to fully recover from this crisis without federal support for the Port Authority."

"The Port Authority supports thousands of jobs in our region and facilitates millions of dollars in daily economic activity," said Rep. Sires. "This work done by New Jerseyans and New Yorkers helps keep the country's economic engine running and it is imperative that the Port Authority receive the financial assistance it needs to weather the ongoing public health crisis."

In their letter, the Members wrote: "While we understand that resources are needed across the board, a healthy, fully functional Port Authority is critical to our region's recovery from this crisis. Assistance will ensure that the Port Authority can continue operating throughout this crisis and serve more than 20 million people who live and work in the region as our nation recovers from the pandemic. The Port Authority also employs 8,000 workers directly, and its facilities support 1 million regional jobs. These jobs are essential to the economic recovery of our region.”

A full copy of the letter can be found here and below:

May 20, 2020

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House
United States House of Representatives
H-232, U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Kevin McCarthy
Minority Leader
United States House of Representatives
H-204, U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader
United States Senate
317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Charles Schumer
Minority Leader
United States Senate
322 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader McCarthy, Leader McConnell, and Leader Schumer:

As you continue to craft additional relief packages in response to the economic impact of coronavirus (COVID-19), we request that you provide additional relief to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. As you know, the New York Metropolitan Region has become the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite an unprecedented decline in revenue, the Port Authority has continued operating to get urgently needed goods and supplies into the region, and essential workers safely to where they need to be to address those most impacted by the crisis.

Current estimates indicate that the Port Authority will face a revenue reduction of at least $3 billion over the next two years.  We write to express our strong support for the Port Authority's request for $3 billion in federal assistance and request that future stimulus packages are crafted to ensure that critical Congressionally created multi-state entities like the Port Authority are not unintentionally excluded.

The Port Authority was created by New York and New Jersey 99 years ago, pursuant to statutory authorization from Congress, acting under the Compact Clause of the Constitution. The Port Authority was envisioned as a financially free-standing and independent entity, and to this day, it still functions that way.  The Port Authority has no power to tax and does not rely on funding from New York or New Jersey. It relies on customer user fees and contractually required payments from business partners, both of which have dramatically declined during the pandemic.

While we understand that resources are needed across the board, a healthy, fully functional Port Authority is critical to our region's recovery from this crisis. Assistance will ensure that the Port Authority can continue operating throughout this crisis and serve more than 20 million people who live and work in the region as our nation recovers from the pandemic. The Port Authority also employs 8,000 workers directly, and its facilities support 1 million regional jobs. These jobs are essential to the economic recovery of our region.

Furthermore, if a forthcoming stimulus package does not include substantial financial assistance, the Port Authority may be forced to make substantial cuts to its Capital Plan. As formulated, the Capital Plan would drive $20 billion of capital to critical infrastructure projects during the next five years alone, generate more than 100,000 local jobs, and would rely on a set of public-private partnerships and on commitments of more than $10 billion in private capital. The Port Authority will not be able to preserve its Capital Plan without sufficient and large-scale financial assistance.  Construction spending will be critically important to our region's economic recovery, and the Port Authority's extensive leveraging of private capital means that every dollar of federal assistance provided to the agency will support several times that amount in direct spending on regional construction projects.

We appreciate that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act provided $450 million in aid to Port Authority airports.  Unfortunately, the Port Authority does not receive rail transit assistance grants, and the CARES Act does not cover unprecedented revenue losses at the Port Authority's toll facilities and seaport. This said, multi-state entities were included in the CARES Act's bond purchasing program, and the Federal Reserve's Municipal Liquidity Facility, established by the CARES Act, specifically encompasses multi-state Compact Clause entities with strong credit ratings, such as the Port Authority.

We urge you to adopt the eligibility criteria in these recent Congressional and Executive Branch actions, to aid multi-state entities by ensuring they are eligible for direct federal funding in future COVID-19 relief packages, and to provide the Port Authority with $3 billion in federal aid.

We thank you for your attention to this matter and for your work on behalf of the nation during this crisis.

                                                       Sincerely,

Jerrold Nadler                                                                                Albio Sires
Member of Congress                                                         Member of Congress

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