The House and Senate Appropriation Committees each passed their fiscal year 2014 transportation funding measures on Thursday. Neither bill contained many changes from the measures introduced in their respective transportation appropriations subcommittees in the last couple weeks, offering significantly different plans for how to fund transportation in the coming year. Yet both bills honor the highway and transit funding levels of the current surface transportation bill, MAP-21.
The Senate's FY 2014 appropriations measure for Transportation, Housing and Urban Development passed out of the full Appropriations Committee and allocates $54 billion, which is about $2.3 billion more than the FY 2013 enacted level. Some of the funding levels for transportation items include: $40.3 billion for the annual Federal-aid Highway program ($636 million more than FY 2013 enacted level); $550 million for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants (an increase of $51 million from FY 2013 enacted level); $500 million for a new bridge repair program; $1.75 billion for rail--$1.45 billion of which is for Amtrak ($137 million more than FY 2013 enacted level); and $1.943 billion for transit "New Starts" program.
"This Transportation-Housing bill is critical to maintaining the strength of America's infrastructure and the jobs needed to build and repair our nation and to make America more competitive, innovative and resilient," said Senate Appropriations Chair Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) in a statement. "The two bills we mark up today are truly economic engines for America, bills that create jobs and keep America moving."
The House appropriations bill fully funds the current surface transportation bill, MAP-21, by providing $40.3 billion from the Highway Trust Fund to be spent on the Federal-aid Highway Program and just over $10.5 billion for federal transit programs. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would see $828 million in this measure, an increase of $7.5 million from FY 2013. However, the bill allocates $1.16 billion for rail, which results in a $468 million drop from the current year's enacted level. No funding was allocated to high-speed rail and funding for Amtrak was cut significantly. Also eliminated in this measure was funding for TIGER grants.
House Appropriations amendments were proposed to add some funding for TIGER grants and restore Amtrak funding, though they both failed.
"We simply can't have it all in an austere budget year like this," said House Appropriations Committee Chair Hal Rogers (R-KY) upon marking up the bill in full committee. "This bill is an example of the trade-offs we must make to meet our fiscal constraints and reduce our deficit. To maintain funding for vital government programs and services, cuts had to be made to other programs, like Amtrak. Unnecessary or simply 'nice-to-have' programs like high-speed rail and the TIGER grant program receive no funding."
Both bills will be addressed by their full bodies at a later date.
Additional information on the House transportation appropriations markup is available here. Further information on the Senate's FY 2014 transportation appropriations markup can be found here.