The House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations approved by a vote of 34 to 27 approved a fiscal 2024 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies or THUD funding bill that reduces year-over-year funding by providing a discretionary total of just over $90.2 billion, which is more than $8.6 billion or 8.7 percent below the Biden Administration’s budget request.
[Above photo by AASHTO]
Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Appropriations passed its own FY 2024 THUD funding bill by unanimous vote; a bill that provides more than $98.9 billion in total discretionary funding.
The House Appropriations bill maintains guaranteed funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provided under the Highway Trust Fund and “advance appropriations.” The measure now moves to the full House for a vote, which should occur in the near future.
According to statement from Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), the committee’s chair, the FY 2024 THUD bill provides a non-defense discretionary funding total of over $89.8 billion and a defense discretionary total of $388 million – “prioritizing highway, railway, and aviation safety while maintaining housing assistance for the nation’s most vulnerable, including the elderly, disabled, and veterans,” she said.
The bill primarily reduces funding across the IIJA’s 19 annually-funded discretionary grant programs by $8.35 billion, specifically reducing U.S. Department of Transportation grant programs by just over $6.6 billion, which is 59 percent below the FY 2023 enacted level. It also cuts Department of Housing and Urban Development grant programs by more than $1.7 billion, which is 28 percent below the FY 2023 enacted level.
“This bill responsibly funds critical transportation infrastructure to ensure our roads, railways, and air traffic control systems are safe and reliable,” Rep. Granger added in a separate statement. “The housing programs in this bill provide support for working families, the elderly, the disabled, and our veterans.”
Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, noted in a statement that the FY 2024 THUD bill provides the Federal Aviation Administration with resources to “right-size” the air traffic controller workforce, with funding to train 1,800 new controllers to backfill the retiring workforce and deploy air traffic controllers to understaffed facilities. The bill also provides full funding for the most critical air traffic control modernization programs, he said.
“This bill provides $60 billion for highways and bridges through the highway trust fund,” Rep. Cole added. “These resources are directly allocated to your state departments of transportation – enabling state and local governments to collaborate on the highest priority road projects. [This] bill also prioritizes safety programs at USDOT to ensure that our roads and railways are safe for freight haulers and the traveling public.”
Yet Mike Quigley (D-IL), the subcommittee’s ranking member, said “I’m disappointed that the Republican 2024 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development bill fails to meet the needs of Americans.
“At a time when too many people in America don’t have a place to call home or lack access to affordable transportation options, the FY 2024 THUD bill slashes funding for new affordable housing for most areas of the country and commuter and passenger rail,” he explained in a separate statement.
“Instead, we should be investing in programs to help communities improve their commutes, travel safely, redevelop distressed housing and attract economic development,” Rep. Quigley noted. “Unfortunately, the bill falls too short of these critical investments. The Republican THUD bill sets America back in a time we need to move forward.”
Meanwhile, the Senate Appropriations $98.9 billion FY 2024 THUD bill contains several key funding measures as well, including: Providing more than $1.2 billion in new resources to the FAA to address the shortage of air traffic controllers, improve safety, reduce flight delays, and increase efficiency; providing $32 million in new funding for the Federal Railroad Administration to improve rail safety and operations nationwide; and expanding transportation infrastructure assistance for tribal governments across the country.
“This is a strong bipartisan bill that makes critical investments to address the shortage of air traffic controllers and reduce flight delays, improve rail safety after recent, deeply concerning derailments, and continue investing in the infrastructure that helps Americans get to where they need to be,” Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
“This bill also takes some critical steps to address homelessness in communities across America and increase the supply of housing to lower costs for families,” she said.
“This legislation provides significant investments to improve our nation’s airports, roads, bridges, and ports, as well as increasing the supply of safe, affordable housing for communities throughout the country,” added Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), vice chair of the committee in a separate statement.
“Despite a challenging budget year, the bill maintains existing rental assistance for more than 4.6 million households and continues to make meaningful investments aimed at tackling homelessness,” she added.