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Durbin: GOP Transportation Bill Would Slash Chicago Transit

UPDATED 02/21/12 1:05 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) is warning of serious transit troubles for the city on the horizon.

As WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports, Durbin is warning that a House Republican transportation bill will reduce funding for the Chicago Transit Authority, for Metra, and for Springfield, Ill., transit. It will also cut funding for Amtrak by 25 percent, he said.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports

“We have a very stark choice before us,” Durbin said. “The House Republican transportation bill declares war on Illinois, Chicago, and mass transit across America. There is no explanation and no defense for their approach, which would once and for all cut the link between the highway gas taxes that are collected and the support of mass transit.”

Durbin sees the bill as a Republican effort to shift transit funding away from urban, Democratic areas toward Republican strongholds.

“They are moving away from support in some states that are not as popular among House Republicans as others, and they’re moving away from the cities, where mass transit is a major element,” Durbin said. “That, of course, reflects the reality that most Republicans are from rural and suburban areas.”

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, a former Republican congressman himself, said it was the most partisan transportation bill he had ever seen and called it “lousy,” Durbin said.

Durbin called on all members of the Illinois Congressional delegation – in both the House and Senate – to oppose the bill.

He also urged support of a separate, bipartisan transportation bill in the Senate, sponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.) That bill would maintain funding of highways, support for Amtrak and support for mass transit from the Highway Trust Fund, Durbin said.

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