The Senate Appropriations Committee voted 31-0 Sept. 19 to advance its $74.3 billion FY2020 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill, which provides funding to improve transportation infrastructure development, housing assistance, and community development. The spending bill, which provides appropriations for the U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and related agencies, advanced the same day that the House passed a stopgap spending bill that would give lawmakers until mid-November to negotiate their versions of 12 appropriations bills, including T-HUD.
The Senate’s 2020 fiscal spending measure includes $46.4 billion for highways, marking a $1.2 billion increase from 2019 levels. General funds for highway infrastructure programs were approved at $2.7 billion, representing a $550 million decrease from the prior year. The bill also includes $1 billion for BUILD grants, roughly the same as fiscal 2019.
Of importance to NATSO members, in a report accompanying the Senate spending bill, appropriators directed the Department of Transportation (DOT) to submit its own proposal for a surface transportation reauthorization, complete with a reliable funding mechanism, as part of the agency’s next budget request. The report stated that the “administration’s 10-year budget proposal ignores the long-term financial insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund, and offers no solutions to address the negative impact of decreased investment on our transportation systems at a time when additional investment is desperately needed.” Current surface transportation law is set to expire in Sept. 2020.
The Committee asked DOT to submit as part of its next budget request a long-term surface reauthorization proposal complete with a “reliable funding mechanism.” Appropriators urged DOT to “refrain” from proposing devolving federal responsibilities to the states, stating that it “shifts the financial burden of these investments to State and local governments” and that this would be “particularly devastating to small, rural States.”
Appropriators also expressed concern that DOT isn't handling "with the attention it deserves" the potential impact on truck drivers as a result of automation.
The FY2020 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill passed by the Appropriations Committee also contains:
— $300 million for the Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair grants, roughly the same as fiscal 2019;
— $255 million for Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements grants, the same as fiscal 2019;
— $10.2 billion for transit formula grants, plus $560 million from the general fund for transit infrastructure grants, roughly the same as fiscal 2019;
— $1.98 billion for the Capital Investment Grants program, a $575 million decrease; and
— $91.6 million for port infrastructure grants, a $201 million decrease.
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