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New House Jobs Bill Dominated by Direct Aid to Cities

Soon after the Senate signed
yesterday on a $150 billion package of tax extenders and
unemployment benefits that was promoted as a job-creation measure -- a
bill that lacked dedicated new funding for transportation -- Democrats
on the House education and labor committee were releasing their own jobs

The House proposal also lacks specific infrastructure funding, but
its structure reflects a shift that could hearten urban planners and
other advocates for a more city-centric approach to federal
transportation funding. Three-quarters of the bill's estimated $100
billion in aid would go directly to cities and counties to help avert
layoffs of firefighters, police, and other workers.

Mayors had pressed for more transportation stimulus spending to go
directly to cities but
the political battle, as the lion's share of the $48 billion
in road and transit aid in last year's recovery package was diverted
through state DOTs. Many urban governments anticipate
budget shortfalls in 2010 that could exceed those at the height of the
financial crisis, with transit cuts and delays in infrastructure
projects looming as consequences of the cash crunch.

Rep. George Miller (D-CA), the education and labor panel's
chairman, told
Roll Call
yesterday that he hopes mayors will use their political
leverage to help the bill move forward in the Senate.

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