Saturday, June 2, 2012

Weekly Address: It's Time for Congress to Get to Work

President Obama speaks to the American people from a Honeywell manufacturing facility in Minnesota about his proposal to make it easier for companies to hire our returning service members for jobs that utilize their skills and help grow our economy.

Friday, June 1, 2012

President Obama Celebrates Pride Month

The President highlights the unsung heroes of the LGBT community.

NYT Report Says U.S. Developed Stuxnet


By Evan Thomas

Anchor: Logan Tittle
Video courtesy of

U.S. Resists U.N.-Controlled Internet

HouseEnergyand CommerceCommittee

By Evan Thomas

Anchor: Logan Tittle
Video courtesy of

A Presidential Proclamation


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As a long-cherished piece of American culture, music offers a vibrant soundtrack to the story of our people and our Union.  At times when words alone could not bring us together, we have found in melodies and choruses the universal truths of our shared humanity.  African-American musicians have left an indelible mark on this tradition, and during African-American Music Appreciation Month, we pay special tribute to their extraordinary contributions.

Generations of African Americans have used music to share joy and pain, triumph and sorrow.  Spiritual hymns gave hope to those laboring under the unrelenting cruelty of slavery, while gospel-inspired freedom songs sustained a movement for justice and equality for all.  The smooth sounds of jazz and the soulful strain of the blues fed a renaissance in art and prose. The rhythm and blues that began in a basement in Detroit brought people together when laws would have kept them apart, while the urban beats and young wordsmiths from cities coast-to-coast gave voice to a new generation.  And on stages and in concert halls around the world, African-American singers and composers have enhanced opera, symphony, and classical music by bringing energy and creativity to traditional genres.

At its core, African-American music mirrors the narrative of its original creators -- born of humble beginnings and raised to refuse the limitations and circumstances of its birth.  This month, we honor the African-American musicians, composers, singers, and songwriters who have forever shaped our musical heritage, and celebrate those who carry this rich legacy forward.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2012 as African-American Music Appreciation Month. I call upon public officials, educators, and all the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate activities and programs that raise awareness and foster appreciation of music that is composed, arranged, or performed by African Americans.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.


Summary of Deputy National Security Advisor McDonough’s Travel

Statement by National Security Council Spokesman Tommy Vietor

Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough concluded a trip to Bahrain, Qatar, and Afghanistan, during which he consulted with key counterparts on a range of issues of mutual concern. 

During his visit to Bahrain May 29-30, Mr. McDonough met with National Security Advisor Khalifa bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa and Interior Minister Rashid bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa and held a roundtable discussion with civil society leaders. 

In these meetings, Mr. McDonough stressed the importance of the U.S.-Bahraini partnership as well as the importance the United States places on reconciliation and reform in Bahrain. 

In Qatar, Mr. McDonough gave a keynote address at the U.S.-Islamic World Forum on May 30, and met with Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jasim Al-Thani to discuss regional issues, including the ongoing crisis in Syria.

Finally, following the President’s May 1 trip to Afghanistan and the recent NATO Summit in Chicago, Mr. McDonough traveled to Afghanistan May 31-June 1 to meet with U.S. civilian and military leaders and with Afghan government officials.  Mr. McDonough met with officials in Kabul, and in Regional Command-South and Regional Command-East.

During all of these discussions, he reiterated the United States’ commitment to the strategy laid out by President Obama and reviewed our joint progress on the five elements of that strategy: transition to an Afghan security lead by the end of 2014; training sufficient and sustainable Afghan Security Forces; building an enduring partnership with Afghanistan; supporting Afghan-led reconciliation; and promoting regional stability.

George Zimmerman's Bail Revoked

Florida Judge Says Defendant Provided Misleading Information and Must Report to Court

NBC News is reporting that a Florida judge has revoked the bail of George Zimmerman after discovering the defendant gave misleading information regarding his finances and passport. 

Details on the judge's decision can be read here:  NBC News Report

From The G-Man will provide more information on this breaking news story as it becomes available. 

NYRA Reorganization Board Conference

President Obama Issues Sanctions on Foreign Narcotics Kingpins

Cites the "Kingpin Act" to Reign in Drug Lords

WASHINGTON, DC – The following is the text of a letter from the President to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Committees on Armed Services and the Judiciary, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Ways and Means, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Senate Committees on Foreign Relations and Finance, and the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence regarding sanctions on foreign narcotics kingpins

June 1, 2012

Dear Madam Chairman: (Dear Mr. Chairman:)
(Dear Representative:) (Dear Senator:)

This report to the Congress, under section 804(a) of the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, 21 U.S.C. 1903(b)(1) (the "Kingpin Act"), transmits my designations of the following three foreign individuals as appropriate for sanctions under the Kingpin Act and reports my direction of sanctions against them under the Act:

Naser Kelmendi (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Sayed Wazir Shah (Afghanistan)
Jose Antonio Soto Gastelum (Mexico)



Editor's note:
Details regarding the "Kingpin Act" are available here: 
The Federal Register

Photo courtesy of

'The Economy is Growing, But It Is Not Growing Fast Enough'

Statement on the Employment Situation in May

WASHINGTON, DC – Alan B. Krueger, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, issued the following statement today on the employment situation in May.
Problems in the job market were long in the making and will not be solved overnight.  The economy lost jobs for 25 straight months beginning in February 2008, and over 8 million jobs were lost as a result of the Great Recession.  We are still fighting back from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. 

Today we learned that the economy has added private sector jobs for 27 straight months, for a total of 4.3 million payroll jobs over that period.  The economy is growing but it is not growing fast enough. BLS’s establishment survey shows that private businesses added 82,000 jobs last month, and overall non-farm payroll employment rose by 69,000.  The unemployment rate ticked up from 8.1% in April to 8.2% in May, according to BLS’s household survey.  However, the labor force participation rate increased 0.2 percentage point to 63.8%, and employment rose by 422,000 according to the household survey. 

There is much more work that remains to be done to repair the damage caused by the financial crisis and deep recession that began at the end of 2007.  Just like last year at this time, our economy is facing serious headwinds, including the crisis in Europe and a spike in gas prices that hit American families’ finances over the past months.  It is critical that we continue the President’s economic policies that are helping us dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession. 

In the American Jobs Act and in the State of the Union Address, the President put forward a number of proposals to create jobs and strengthen the economy, including proposals that would put teachers back in the classroom and cops on the beat, and put our nation’s construction workers back on the job rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure. 

The President has also proposed a “To-Do List” of actions that Congress should take to create jobs and help restore middle-class security.  This includes eliminating tax incentives to ship jobs overseas, cutting red tape so responsible homeowners can refinance, giving small businesses that increase employment or wages a 10 percent income tax credit, investing in affordable clean energy, and helping returning veterans find work. 

The President is in Minneapolis today to announce a new executive action that will establish private sector partnerships to help military service members acquire recognized occupational credentials—as welders, as machinists, and ultimately in a broader range of occupations.  These partnerships will help service members find private sector jobs once they leave the military, and they will help firms in manufacturing and other industries that need workers to fill their vacant positions. 

Manufacturing employment continues to expand and manufacturers added 12,000 jobs in May.  After losing millions of good manufacturing jobs in the years before and during the recession, the economy has added 495,000 manufacturing jobs since January 2010--the strongest growth for any 28-month period since April 1995.  To continue the revival in manufacturing jobs and output, the President has proposed tax incentives for manufacturers, enhanced training for the workforce, and measures to create manufacturing hubs and encourage the growing trend of insourcing. 

Other sectors with net job increases included education and health services (+46,000), transportation and warehousing (+35,600), wholesale trade (+15,900), and temporary help services (+9,200).  Construction lost 28,000 jobs, accounting services lost 14,000 jobs, government lost 13,000 jobs, and leisure and hospitality lost 9,000 jobs.  State and local governments shed 8,000 jobs, mostly in education. 

As the Administration stresses every month, the monthly employment and unemployment figures can be volatile, and employment estimates can be subject to substantial revision.  Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report and it is helpful to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available.

(Click graph to enlarge.) 

New Legislation in New York

Governor Cuomo Signs 16 Items

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the following pieces of legislation:

Chapter 39
Jaffee (MS) -- Relates to financial assistance from the office of victim services for HIV post-exposure prophylaxis treatment for victims of sexual assault
Same as S 3200-B HANNON
Chapter 40
Englebright -- Makes the director of the state office for the aging a member of the emergency services council
Same as S 1994 GOLDEN
Chapter 41
Rivera J (MS) -- Establishes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Same as S 5673 VALESKY
Chapter 42
Cusick -- Creates an exception to school busing requirements in the city of New York for restoration of past services
Same as S 6027-B LANZA
Chapter 43
Millman -- Authorizes Gustin L. Reichbach to obtain service credit for his service as a judge with the United Nations administration mission in Kosovo
Same as S 6374 MONTGOMERY 
Chapter 44
Quart (MS) -- Relates to repealing the requirement of an undertaking by a surrogate or a county judge; repealer
Same as S 6659 BONACIC
Chapter 45
Maisel -- Relates to the state council for adult offender supervision and presumptive release
Same as S 6846 NOZZOLIO
Chapter 46
MCDONALD -- Establishes the Historic Hudson-Hoosic Rivers Partnership to replace and expand the territory of the former Historic Saratoga-Washington on the Hudson Partnership
Same as A 2594 Englebright
Chapter 47
SMITH -- Makes provisions allowing any individual to make limited loans to family members without requiring an individual to obtain a mortgage banking license
Same as A 9123 Robinson
Chapter 48
HANNON -- Provides for the licensing of physician assistants and the continued registration of specialist assistants
Same as A 7355-B Gottfried
Chapter 49
GRISANTI -- Extends draft management plan submission dates and amends chapter 595 of the laws of 2007
Same as A 8826-A Peoples-Stokes
Chapter 62
MARTINS -- Provides for state advisory appraisal services to villages
Same as A 9383 Galef
Chapter 63
YOUNG -- Relates to certain contracts for rural area revitalization contracts
Same as A 8081 Russell
Chapter 64
YOUNG -- Provides that up to ten percent of project cost for affordable home ownership development contracts may be used for particular operating costs
Same as A 7833 Lopez V
Chapter 65
GRISANTI -- Relates to special powers of the New York State environmental facilities corporation
Same as A 9786 Sweeney
Chapter 66
ROBACH -- Establishes that debt payments for the Rochester school facilities modernization program shall not affect the city of Rochester's maintenance of effort requirements
Same as A 9634 Gantt

Photo source: Own work
Author: Elcobbola

West Wing Week: 06/01/12

Obama, Romney Campaigns Get 'Nasty'


By Christina Hartman

Anchor: Christina Hartman
Video courtesy of

Outrage Over Photos of Uniformed Military Moms Breastfeeding


By Joe Chiodo

Anchor: Christina Hartman
Video courtesy of

Bill Clinton Heads to Wisconsin Ahead of Recall Vote


By Zach Toombs

Anchor: Christina Hartman
Video courtesy of

Pilot Kicks Three-Year-Old Off Plane


By Nathan Byrne

Anchor: Carissa Loethen
Video courtesy of

Politics in Action: H.R. 5325



H.R. 5325 – Energy and Water Development and Related 

Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013
(Rep. Rogers, R-KY)

The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 5325, making appropriations for energy and water development and related agencies for the fiscal year (FY) ending September 30, 2013, and for other purposes. 

Last summer, the Congress and the President came to a bipartisan agreement to put the Nation on a sustainable fiscal course in enacting the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA).  The BCA created a framework for more than $2 trillion in deficit reduction and provided tight spending caps that would bring discretionary spending to a minimum level needed to preserve critical national priorities.  Departing from the bipartisan agreement reached in the BCA and departing from these caps, the House of Representatives put forward a topline discretionary funding level for FY 2013 that, for example, would cost jobs and hurt average Americans, especially seniors, veterans, and children – as well as degrade many of the basic Government services on which the American people rely, such as air traffic control and law enforcement.  In addition, these cuts were made in the context of a budget that fails the test of balance, fairness, and shared responsibility by giving millionaires and billionaires a tax cut and paying for it through deep cuts, including to discretionary programs.

Taking this into account, passing H.R. 5325 at its current funding level would mean that when the Congress constructs other appropriations bills, it would necessitate significant and harmful cuts to critical national priorities such as education, research and development, job training, and health care.  Furthermore, this bill undermines key investments in clean energy and scientific research and development, building blocks of our Nation's future economy.  Investing in these areas is critical to the Nation's economic growth, security, and global competitiveness.  The Administration also strongly objects to the inclusion of ideological and political provisions that are beyond the scope of funding legislation.

If the President were presented with H.R. 5325, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.

The Administration would like to take this opportunity to share additional views regarding the Committee's version of the bill.

Department of Energy (DOE)

Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA–E).  The Administration strongly opposes the reduction in funding for ARPAE.  The bill provides $200 million for the program, which is $150 million below the FY 2013 Budget request and $75 million below the FY 2012 enacted level.  ARPAE funds early stage, transformative energy technology research that industry, by itself, is unlikely to support.  Investments in ARPAE are aimed at ensuring that the Nation remains at the forefront of new energy technology development to ensure the United States remains a lead competitor in this area.

Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).  The Administration strongly opposes the level of funding provided for EERE, which is $886 million below the FY 2013 Budget request and $428 million less than the FY 2012 enacted level. The current funding in the bill would be the lowest level of funding for EERE since FY 2006, leaving U.S. competitiveness at risk in new markets and clean energy industries such as advanced vehicles, advanced manufacturing, energy efficiency for homes and businesses, and domestic renewable energy such as wind, solar, and biomass.  This level cuts funding for solar energy and for building energy efficiency nearly in half from the FY 2012 enacted level.

Office of Science.  The Administration strongly opposes the level of funding in the bill for the Office of Science, which is $191 million below the FY 2013 Budget request and $73 million below the FY 2012 enacted level. The funding provided would hinder important research underpinning U.S. innovation in clean energy technologies and applications.  The Office of Science also funds basic research across a broad spectrum of physical, biological, and environmental sciences.  Reductions in support for these areas may lead to a loss of U.S. leadership in many areas of science.

Energy Information Administration (EIA).  The Administration urges the House to fully fund EIA, which will allow the agency to continue to provide independent and rigorous analysis of America's energy markets, including important national energy consumption and production data.  This level is also necessary to improve the security of procedures and data delivery methods for reports, such as weekly oil stock reports, that can move market prices. The bill currently provides $100 million, which is $16 million below the FY 2013 Budget request and $5 million less than the FY 2012 enacted level.

National Nuclear Security Administration.  The Administration greatly appreciates the Committee's support for Presidential initiatives to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons and to maintain a robust deterrent.  This support will help continue efforts to secure nuclear materials in four years, maintain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear stockpile through stockpile stewardship and life extensions, recapitalize the aging infrastructure of the nuclear enterprise, and develop a reactor for the Ohio Class replacement submarine.

Statutory by Reference Provision.  The Administration urges the House to remove section 301(c) of the bill, which incorporates the text as well as the specific funding directions of the House report into the statute by reference.  There are multiple provisions in the report language that could be problematic or otherwise counter to the specific activities laid out in the FY 2013 Budget.  In addition, enactment of this provision would limit flexibility and efficiency in execution.

Army Corps of Engineers (Corps)

Overall Funding and New Starts.  The Administration urges the House to reduce the overall level of funding to that requested in the FY 2013 Budget, and to reallocate funds to restore funding requested for several priority programs and initiatives.  These priority programs include the start of construction work on an important new program to reverse damage to the coastal Louisiana ecosystem and other priority new construction starts; a study requested by the Congress to examine flood risks nationwide to improve existing programs; and the restoration of $15 million to the Corps' regulatory program, so it can process permit applications in a timely manner.

Inland Waterways.  The Administration appreciates the Committee's continued strong support for cost-sharing of inland waterways capital investments.  The Administration also urges the House to include the general provision proposed in the FY 2013 Budget to increase the total authorized cost for the Olmsted Locks and Dam project.

Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation

San Joaquin River Restoration.  The Administration strongly opposes the Committee's elimination of funding for this program, which would undermine the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement's goals to restore and maintain fish populations and reduce or avoid water supply impacts.

Policy Riders

The Administration strongly opposes problematic policy and language riders including, but not limited to, the following provisions in this bill:

Yucca Mountain.  Section 508 of the bill would prohibit using funds made available by the bill for any actions related to the Administration's plan for Yucca Mountain, such as closing the application process.

DOE Weatherization Assistance Program.  Section 307 of the bill permanently blocks existing Weatherization Assistance Program authorizations, reducing the efficiency of the program by lowering the maximum income level for retrofit assistance eligibility, the maximum financial assistance per weatherized home, and the maximum allocation allowed for Training and Technical Assistance from current levels.

Fossil-fuel generated energy consumption reduction.  Section 311 would prevent funding for the development and implementation of a rule to improve energy efficiency and reduce reliance on fossil fuels in Federal buildings, and would hinder the Administration's ability to improve the efficiency of Federal buildings and reduce harmful greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions.

Clean Water Act (CWA).  Section 110 of the bill would stop an Administration effort to provide clarity on which water bodies are covered by CWA.  The existing regulations were the subject of two Supreme Court cases in 2001 and 2006, in which the Court indicated the need for greater regulatory clarity on the scope of CWA jurisdiction.

The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress as the FY 2013 appropriations process moves forward.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Edwards Trial: Acquittal on One Count, Mistrial on Others


By Christina Hartman

Anchor: Christina Hartman
Video courtesy of

The Power of the Pen: New Bills Signed Into Law

Statement by the Press Secretary on H.R. 5740

On Thursday, May 31, 2012, the President signed into law:

H.R. 5740, which reauthorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency, under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), to enter into new contracts for flood insurance and borrow from the Treasury up to specified amounts through July 31, 2012; and under the NFIP, beginning on July 1, 2012, phases out subsidized premium rates for residential property that is not the primary residence of an individual.

Unveiling the Official President Bush Portrait

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host former President George W. Bush and Former First Lady Laura Bush for the unveiling of their official portraits.

Portrait of President Bush, Laura Bush Unveiled

Click to enlarge portraits.

Background Information on the Presentation of Portraits for President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Welch Bush

President George Walker Bush: President George W. Bush is portrayed standing in the center of the Oval Office in the West Wing. His right hand rests on an armchair made for the White House in 1818 by District of Columbia cabinetmaker William King, Jr. A corner of the “Resolute desk,” presented to the White House by Queen Victoria in 1880, can be seen behind the chair. Over his right shoulder hangs a 1929 western painting, A Charge to Keep, by William H. D. Koerner. The President, who had used the same title for his 1999 memoir, often called attention to that painting and its significance.

 Mrs. Laura Welch Bush: For the setting of her portrait, First Lady Laura Bush selected the Green Room, as refurbished with her active participation in 2007. Wearing a midnight blue gown, she rests her left hand on a lyreback armchair attributed to the famous New York cabinetmaker, Duncan Phyfe, c.1810. Federal easy chairs, among antique American furniture added to the room in 1971-72, were reupholstered in a rich salmon-colored silk. The 1767 David Martin portrait of Benjamin Franklin hangs over the neoclassical mantel, acquired for the White House in 1818.

About the Artist: John Howard Sanden, born in 1935 in Austin Texas, now lives in Connecticut and maintains a studio in Carnegie Hall in New York City. Well known for his portraits of leaders of industry and education, he received the first John Singer Sargent Medal for Lifetime Achievement from the American Society of Portrait Artists in 1994.

Commissioning: As usual, the White House Historical Association contracted with the artist selected by the subjects and will donate the finished paintings to the White House as a gift of the George B. Hartzog, Jr. White House Acquisition Trust. 

In 2010, President Bush selected John Howard Sanden to execute his White House portrait.  The success of the sittings and the portrait itself, completed in 2011, led Mrs. Bush to select Sanden for her portrait as well, finished in early 2012.

White House Briefs

Cuomo to Scrap 'Trains to Nowhere'

Turboliner Trains Have Been Rotting In a Rail Yard Since 2004 at Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars in Storage Costs

Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced plans to dispose of outdated, obsolete and non-functioning trains that have been sitting idle in a weed filled industrial park in Glenville.

In addition, millions of dollars of unused and unneeded replacement train parts that have been stored in a warehouse in Rotterdam will also be sold.

Taxpayers will save more than $150,000 in yearly lease costs as well as benefit from the proceeds from the sale and disposition of the equipment.

"I have repeatedly said that state government must be more efficient and must stop wasting taxpayer money," said Governor Cuomo.

"In this case, millions of dollars of taxpayer money were used to buy obsolete equipment, and hundreds of thousands more spent to store it. This is exactly why we are scouring through the operations of every agency - to make sure cases like this are found and stopped."

The trains were part of a high speed rail program that was launched in 1998 and was supposed to provide faster service between Albany and New York City.

Originally built in 1976, seven train cars were supposed to be rehabilitated and upgraded for $70 million as part of the $185 million project. Two trains were upgraded and put into service for a short period in 2003. But poor planning and engineering problems made the trains unusable and the program was stopped. Since then four of the trains – each consisting of two locomotives, a café car, and two passenger cars have been decaying in an industrial rail yard.

Today, these types of trains are considered obsolete, with none in service in the United States, and are used in only a handful of countries around the world.

The trains were identified for disposition during our ongoing review of New York state agencies—a review meant to root out waste. At the Governor’s direction, the Office of General Services (OGS) will oversee the sale and disposal of the locomotives, cars and unneeded rail parts located at the Rotterdam and Scotia Industrial Parks.

OGS will engage a technology parts broker to assess the value and condition of the trains and the parts, and to manage the sale and disposition of the equipment. The trains may have to be sold for scrap, depending on the outcome of the evaluation. Industry experts will help determine how best to sell the equipment by the end of the year.

The locomotives and train cars, in various stages of disrepair, have been stored at a facility in Scotia, Schenectady County, at an annual cost of $58,000.

The unneeded train parts are warehoused in Rotterdam, also in Schenectady County, at an annual cost of $95,000. New York State has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for leasing spaces to store this equipment.

The millions of dollars of train parts stored at the warehouse would fit into more than 100 tractor trailer trucks and include: 4 large turbine engines, 4 medium sized turbine engines, 1 used medium sized turbine engine, 8 train transmissions, 8 new large electric generators, HVAC systems, hundreds of seat frames, cushions and upholstery, and dozens of new train wheels and brake rotors

"There is no better example of the extent of government dysfunction inherited by Governor Cuomo than these rusted and rotting trains to nowhere which wasted millions in tax dollars. Our efforts to root out government waste will end these shocking examples of poor planning and incompetent management that have plagued New York State government for a decade," said Howard Glaser, Director of State Operations.

The Governor's plan to rid the state of these trains is part of his overhaul of New York's government operations.

In February, Governor Cuomo launched the "NYSStore," a new eBay-based online platform to sell unneeded state vehicles and other items, as well as real estate available through eBay and other means.

To date, more than 108,909 people have visited Since the "NYSStore" launch, the state has sold $ 258,212, 02 worth of non-vehicle excess state assets, and 324 excess vehicles, totaling in $1,129,533.29.

Governor Cuomo's administration has taken a different approach to high speed rail development, one designed to deliver tangible improvements in reliability, on-time performance and speed.

Seven major rail projects are underway, with $567.3 million in funding from the federal government matched by $104.4 million from the state.

The projects focus on improving, upgrading, and modernizing the state’s rail infrastructure to eliminate current problems and put the state on track to the rail system of the future. Work underway now includes the following:

Harold Interlocking - Harold Interlocking is the busiest passenger rail interlocking in North America, serving 783 Amtrak, LIRR and NJ Transit trains each weekday – 136 of them are Amtrak trains. The project will build separate tracks for Amtrak between Hell Gate Bridge and Penn Station. Cost: $368.2M

4th Track at Rensselaer Station Project –a new passenger track to eliminate congestion and delays at the station caused by trains waiting for the platform to become available. Cost: $50.5M

Albany Schenectady Double Track Project –building 17 miles of new track where only a single track exists, eliminating a critical bottleneck for the entire corridor. Cost: $91.2M

Two signal line projects on the Hudson Line: replace obsolete signal wires that are the source of frequent outages along the Hudson line. Cost: $36.5M

Ballston Spa 2nd Main Track – Canadian Pacific Railways is adding a track near Saratoga Station and the busy Saratoga Freight Yard, reducing delays to Amtrak’s Adirondack Service. Cost: $6.63M

Station Improvements at Buffalo Depew Station –project will improve the station building and parking lot. Cost: $770K

Schenectady Station –building new track and infrastructure while CDTA constructs a replacement station. Cost: $13.5M