President Trump on March 23 signed a $1.3 trillion Fiscal Year 2018 spending bill to fund most government operations during the fiscal year, including the Department of Transportation, averting a third government shutdown since taking office.
The 2,232-page spending measure prioritizes funding for national defense and infrastructure, investing a total of $86.2 billion for the nation’s transportation infrastructure, including $27.3 billion in discretionary appropriations — an $8.8 billion increase over FY 2017.
Total funding for roads and bridges received a $3.5 billion boost over FY 2017, providing $45 billion from the Highway Trust Fund to be spent on the Federal-aid Highways Program.
The legislation also allocates $1.5 billion for the TIGER grant program — three times the level allocated in 2017 — 30 percent of which must go to rural communities. Nearly $2 billion goes to Amtrak.
The spending package does not contain a preemption to block the California law that requires meal and rest breaks for truck drivers. It grants truck drivers who haul livestock an exemption from the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate through the end of September. The bill also grants North Dakota and New Hampshire permission to operate certain trucks weighing 129,000 lbs. and 99,000 lbs. (The current federal limit is 80,000 pounds).
The spending measure passed despite a number of hurdles, including a veto threat from the President. The Senate voted 65-32 in favor of the measure shortly before 1 a.m. on March 23. The vote came just 12 hours after it passed the House 256-167 amid objections that lawmakers had not had a chance to review the final measure.
The President threatened to veto the spending bill following Senate passage citing its lack of provisions to preserve Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA — a program he rescinded last fall — and a lack of funding for a border wall. The measure includes nearly $1.6 billion for border security.
The spending bill is widely expected to be the last major legislation that Congress will pass before the November midterm elections.
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