Washington, D.C.-area commuters and visitors to the nation’s capital will not ride in Chinese-made rail cars if the region’s congressional delegation gets its way.
Lawmakers from suburban Maryland, the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia have asked the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee to make future funding for the region’s Metro system contingent upon the agency’s pledge not to purchase rail cars manufactured by “state-owned corporations.”
The lawmakers cite the potential for espionage.
“The company that is awarded the contract will have access to the tunnels and underground infrastructure in Washington, D.C. – including at the Pentagon, State Department and the U.S. Capitol, and the new train cars could be vulnerable to malicious software, surveillance, and sabotage,” said Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D-Md.).
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority “must prioritize security over any short-term cost savings,” he added.
“China is not making these rail cars so cheaply out of the goodness of their hearts,” said Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), chair of the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.
“Until we have irrefutable evidence, we must not turn a blind eye to the clear incentive China has to monitor our capital and undermine our security.”
The letter was sent to Reps. David E. Price (D-N.C.) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Appropriations panel’s Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development. It was also signed by Reps. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), John P. Sarbanes (D-Md.) and David J. Trone (D-Md.), among others.
Metro is now in the process of procuring 8000-series rail cars.
“WMATA has asked for guidance from Congress on this matter, and this effort should serve as a clear and unequivocal message – do not sacrifice safety to save a dime,” said Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.).