ATLANTA - Public transit projects for the first time would receive federal funding based on their connectivity to affordable housing under legislation proposed Friday by several members of Georgia’s congressional delegation.

The Public Transportation Expansion Act is sponsored in the Senate by Georgia Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. Sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives include Democratic Reps. Nikema Williams of Atlanta, Carolyn Bourdeax of Suwanee and Hank Johnson of Stone Mountain.

The bill would establish a federal grant program to fund public transportation expansion to serve low-income communities and connect affordable housing with transit networks.

It also, for the first time in decades, would let large transit systems use federal funds for operating expenses.

The legislation was added to the massive budget reconciliation bill now making its way through Congress.

“I am championing historic transit investments in the reconciliation bill because mobility is essential for opportunity, health, and quality of life — especially in communities that have been historically neglected,” Ossoff said.

“This legislation will build public transportation to serve residents in Georgia’s low-income neighborhoods, connecting affordable housing with health care, education, and employment centers while protecting our environment by reducing air pollution.”

“Connected communities are thriving communities,” added Williams, a member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee. “For too long, Black, Brown, and low-income communities have been left behind in transit expansion. … This legislation is a direct line to economic opportunity for everyone, no matter your ZIP Code or your bank account.”

The budget reconciliation bill faces an uncertain future in Congress. Because of the process being used to consider the legislation, it must receive support from all 50 Democrats in the Senate – with the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris – in order to pass.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has expressed concerns that the nation can’t afford the legislation’s $3.5 trillion price tag, while progressive Democrats are seeking an even larger spending measure.

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