A bipartisan group of local congressmembers announced a last-ditch effort on Wednesday to thwart the MTA’s congestion pricing program.

Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) and Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.) held a news conference to announce the creation of a “Bipartisan Congressional Anti-Congestion Tax Caucus,” which they said is designed to kill the plan to toll motorists who drive south of 60th Street in Manhattan.

“We want to see this thing dead,” Malliotakis said. “We want to make sure that we end congestion pricing because it's a cash grab at the absolute wrong time when people are struggling.”

The two have for months lobbied against the congestion pricing program, which was signed into New York state law in 2019. They said Reps. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.) and Tom Kean (R-N.J.) — who did not show up for the news conference — also joined the caucus.

The group wants federal intervention into the MTA, whose congestion pricing program is in the final stages of approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The formation of the four-member caucus comes two months after Gottheimer failed to win support from Malliotakis for a plan that would cut federal funds for the MTA if the tolls were to be approved.

As part of their scheme, the congressmembers want the U.S. Office of the Inspector General and the U.S. Department of Transportation to audit how the MTA spent roughly $15 billion federal COVID-19 relief funds it received in 2020 and 2021. Those funds were used to offset losses to fare and toll revenue during the pandemic, the MTA's budget shows.

The politicians also want the MTA to conduct another environmental study of the tolling program. The agency submitted an environmental assessment for congestion pricing last year that looked into what traffic effects the tolls would have in New York and its suburbs.

The report found that traffic on Staten Island would increase under all tolling scenarios being considered. It also found that parts of New Jersey may also be adversely affected by changing traffic patterns as more drivers use routes that avoid Manhattan.

“Longer auto and truck travel times from Central New Jersey and Staten Island would result from increased traffic on the Staten Island Expressway,” the MTA’s report found.

The report also found that roughly 90% of people from New Jersey who travel to Manhattan for work do so via mass transit, not cars.

“Yesterday it was reported that New York City has the most traffic congestion of any city across the United States, and incredibly today, we have members of Congress driving into Midtown Manhattan trying to make sure those traffic problems remain,” said MTA spokesperson John McCarthy. “The bottom line is reducing car and truck traffic 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.”

The revenues from the tolls are required by law to fund major upgrades to mass transit in New York.

Malliotakis on Wednesday appeared to have personal reasons to nix the tolls. In a video reviewed by Gothamist, she can be seen leaving the news conference for a car that was illegally parked outside the Lincoln Tunnel.