NJ Democrat joins NY Republicans in congressional effort to sink NYC’s congestion pricing


New Jersey Rep. Josh Gottheimer announced legislation Thursday designed to punish New York for its plan to toll drivers who enter Manhattan below 60th Street.

The bill, called the Anti-Congestion Tax Act, would nix billions in funding for the cash-strapped MTA and sink some of the agency’s biggest construction projects.

The proposal has the support of two New York Republican House members: Staten Island and South Brooklyn Rep. Nicole Malliotakis and Rockland County Rep. Mike Lawler.

Gottheimer, a Democrat, has repeatedly accused the MTA of “whacking” New Jersey drivers, even though the MTA hasn’t set an exact price for the tolls or announced who will be exempt from the charges.

“MTA backwards — ATM — that’s how they look at us,” Gottheimer said at a Thursday press conference. “Let’s tell them to stop this.”

The bill would freeze $2 billion in federal funding for the MTA, block funding for the transit agency’s capital projects and give drivers a federal tax credit at the end of the year if they pay congestion fees.

The MTA is waiting for federal officials to give final approval for congestion pricing, which was approved by state lawmakers in Albany nearly four years ago.

Once the agency has the green light, officials expect it to take a year before the tolls launch.

The MTA last year published an environmental assessment for the program, which proposed a range of toll prices drivers might pay, from $9 during peak commuting time to $23.

“I will not stop until this plan is dead,” said Lawler, who joined Gottheimer at Thursday’s news conference. “This is unacceptable and we won’t stand for it.”

MTA spokesperson John McCarthy said Lawler should be aware congestion pricing is codified in New York state law from his time as an assemblymember in Albany.

“Anyone serious about the environment and reducing gridlock understands that congestion pricing is good for the environment, good for getting fire trucks, buses and delivery vehicles through the city, and good for the 90% of people who depend on mass transit,” McCarthy said.

During another news conference on Thursday, Gov. Kathy Hochul said she’s “not deterred” by the bill — and said it has a slim chance of passing Congress because it “would have to get through the U.S. Senate with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.”

Congestion pricing is required by law to generate $1 billion a year, which the MTA would use to generate $16 billion in bond sales. That money is required to be spent on major transit upgrades, like new subway signals, train cars and projects to make stations accessible with elevators and ramps.

Gottheimer cited a 1985 law passed by Congress that ended two-way tolling on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge as inspiration for his bill.

In 2020, two-way tolling returned to the bridge after Congress reversed the rule in the 2019 federal spending package, which was signed by former President Donald Trump.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has also been critical of the tolling program, but hasn’t issued any specific threats.

The MTA’s study of the tolling program’s impact found that 90% of New Jersey residents who commute to the tolling zone use mass transit instead of private cars.


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