Fact check: Did Democrats plan to give COVID relief money to a ‘Pelosi subway’?

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David Lightman
·3 min read
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Claim: The economic relief plan Congress is now considering included “$140 million allocated to fund Speaker Pelosi’s subway in Silicon Valley,” House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said Tuesday.

Ruling: Mostly true. The COVID-19 relief bill contained money for such a project — until the Senate parliamentarian ruled Tuesday night it didn’t belong in the bill. But the project was not Pelosi’s.


The parliamentarian Tuesday ruled that the California project, as well as a New York bridge project, did not belong in the $1.9 trillion packaged aimed at helping people, businesses and state and local governments deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Republicans had been railing against the projects for days. At a news conference Friday, McCarthy talked about what he called “Nancy Pelosi’s subway.”

He told the House that the subway line is “just outside” Pelosi’s San Francisco-based district.

Republican senators got on the bandwagon this week. After GOP senators met privately Tuesday to talk strategy, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyoming, the Senate’s third-ranking Republican, told reporters “this is the way Nancy Pelosi gets $140 million for her tunnel of love to Silicon Valley.”

The project is actually about 50 miles away from the southernmost point of Pelosi’s district.

House Republicans have pushed to shift money for the Bay Area Rapid Transit project to mental health services.

“Our proposal would shift $140 million allocated to fund Speaker Pelosi’s subway in Silicon Valley, and it would direct those resources to grants states and localities can use toward mental health services,” McCarthy, R-Calif., wrote Tuesday.

The Democratic-run House voted to reject that effort.

The project runs through the district of Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, but she did not seek the funding.

The Democratic-run House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said the funding was needed because local money was imperiled by COVID-related revenue losses. Republicans countered that such projects have no business being in legislation aimed at easing COVID-caused emergencies.

The subway funding would help extend the Bay Area Rapid Transit system from the Berryessa Station , now the southernmost station in Santa Clara County, through downtown San Jose.

It’s phase two of a 16-mile BART expansion project. The first 10 miles opened last year. The second phase is expected to be ready for riders in 2030.

The project’s total cost is an estimated $6.9 billion. Three-fourths was expected to come from local sources and the rest from federal funds.

So far, Washington has allocated $225 million, money announced by the Trump administration.

“We’re very sorry that Leader McCarthy doesn’t understand how transportation projects are funded or that this particular project is 50 miles away from the speaker’s district, but this project was advanced by the Trump administration and is funded in this bill along with projects across the country, including in Arizona, Indiana, Missouri and Texas,” said Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill.

McCarthy’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

Republicans had taken turns Tuesday on the Senate floor criticizing the project. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Montana, called it “Nancy Pelosi’s train to nowhere.”

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, protested “a subway system in the speaker’s home state of California. What do those have to do with COVID-19? Where is the emergency there?”