Houston Matters

Is METRO Agreement Progress or Political Gamesmanship?

On Monday, Houston METRO Chairman Gilbert Garcia and U.S. Congressman John Culberson held a press conference to announce the beginning of discussions to find regional transportation solutions together. That announcement was surprising to some, as twice now Rep. Culberson — a member of the House Appropriations Committee — inserted a provision into a transportation, housing and […]

On Monday, Houston METRO Chairman Gilbert Garcia and U.S. Congressman John Culberson held a press conference to announce the beginning of discussions to find regional transportation solutions together. That announcement was surprising to some, as twice now Rep. Culberson — a member of the House Appropriations Committee — inserted a provision into a transportation, housing and urban development bill that specifically required no Federal Transit Administration money could be used to fund a rail project METRO wants to build along Richmond Avenue. Culberson says he’s now willing to allow METRO to ask for money for rail development along Richmond, provided voters specifically approve it. Is this a change of heart, or political gamesmanship? Or a bit of both?

We ask Rep. Culberson why he’s opposed the project in the past, and why he’s now offering this caveat. We also learn more about the politics behind funding projects like this from Abby Livingston, the Texas Tribune’s Washington Bureau Chief, and Bob Stein, Professor of Political Science at Rice University.

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