U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg (above) appeared before the House of Representative Committee on Appropriations April 20 to defend the proposed fiscal year 2024 budget for his agency and its modal divisions.
[Above image via House video feed]
The main highlight of the President’s FY 2024 budget request, according to analysis by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, is that funding levels authorized under the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA – enacted in November 2021 – continue unimpeded, with $80.3 billion provided via contract authority for trust fund programs and $36.8 billion in advance appropriations.
Concurrently, the administration is requesting $27.8 billion in discretionary budget authority from the General Fund, which is traditionally where Congressional appropriators focus as part of the Transportation-Housing and Urban Development or THUD annual funding package.
Specifically, AASHTO said the Biden administration seeks to cut out Congressional earmarks and zero out certain General Fund supplements to the Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Highway Administration, and Federal Transit Administration formula programs that have been the norm in the recent years.
At the same time, the President seeks to ramp up funding for USDOT’s Mega discretionary grants programs, various Federal Railroad Administration programs, and FTA Capital Investment Grants – with a net discretionary funding reduction of $882 million in FY 2024 compared to FY 2023.
Secretary Buttigieg said at the hearing that the proposed FY 2024 budget for USDOT is necessary for the country to take advantage of “a moment of unrivaled opportunity and swift progress.”
In his testimony, Buttigieg added that “unprecedented funding” from the IIJA is helping “modernize and improve” the nation’s infrastructure at a rapid pace – and that the proposed FY 2024 budget for USDOT will help support that momentum.
“Shovels are hitting the ground on new projects all over the country. To date, we have announced over $200 billion for over 23,000 projects nationwide, and we are continuing to get funding to communities as swiftly as we responsibly can,” he said. “Aside from getting money out the door for more good projects, we’re also using our regulatory and enforcement authorities to protect and advocate for the traveling public. In short, there’s a great deal of work underway, and a great deal yet to be done.”
Buttigieg also stressed that the country’s transportation system is at a key “turning point” in what he described as a “revival” of its capabilities.
“We are finally in the process of renewing its physical foundations, but we are also grappling with serious vulnerabilities – especially in areas where federal oversight and regulation have been undermined – which pose very real dangers to workers, families, and communities. [That’s why] we need to bring bipartisan dedication to sustaining those investments in America, and ensure they reach every person and every community, from the largest cities to the most rural communities.”