Transportation Funding to Flow Following Bicameral Legislative Agreement

As part of bicameral legislative deal to prevent a second partial federal government shutdown while providing monies to build a wall along parts of the southern U.S. border, a total of $26.5 billion in discretionary funds and $60 billion from Highway and Airport and Airway Trust Funds will be provided to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The Senate voted in favor of the deal 83-16 on Feb. 14, followed by passage in the House of Representatives by a vote of 300-128. President Trump said via Twitter that he would sign the government funding bill, while also taking other “executive action,” including the declaration of a national emergency on Feb. 15 to “ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border.”

This legislation also contains final funding for a series of fiscal year 2019 appropriations bills for nine federal departments and related agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Commerce, Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency, and USDOT.

The USDOT appropriations measure includes:

  • $45.3 billion for highways honoring FAST Act funding levels for 2019, plus $3.25 billion in supplemental funding out of the general fund;
  • Of that $3.25 billion in supplemental highway funding from the general fund, roughly $2.7 billion will be apportioned to the states as if it were Surface Transportation Block Grant Program funding, while $475 million will be for a Bridge Rehabilitation and Replacement program.
  • $900 million for Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development or BUILD discretionary grant program grants, divided evenly between rural and urban projects;
  • $3.35 billion for the Airport Improvement Program, plus $500 million out of the general fund for discretionary grants;
  • $400 million for Federal-State partnership for “state of good repair” grants, provided through the Federal Transit Administration;
  • $255 million for Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements or CRISI grants, provided through the Federal Railroad Administration;
  • $1.94 billion for Amtrak, including $650 million for Northeast Corridor grants and $1.29 billion for the national rail network;
  • $9.9 billion for transit formula grants, plus $700 million out of the general fund for infrastructure grants; and
  • $2.55 billion for the Capital Investment Grant program, including $1.27 billion for “new starts,” $635 million for “core capacity” and $527 million for “small starts.”

“This legislation makes a significant down payment on the border wall and provides a bipartisan path forward to complete the remaining FY19 [fiscal year 2019] spending bills,” Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said in a statement.

Sen. Richard Shelby

“Our bipartisan efforts have been essential in securing the passage of this bill and completing the FY19 appropriations process,” he noted. “It is my hope that we will all continue to work together as we turn to the FY20 appropriations bills.”

“This is not the agreement I would have reached on my own [as] there are things in this bill that I support, and things that I disagree with – but that is the nature of a negotiation,” added Ranking Member Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., in a statement. “This agreement funds nine federal departments and their related agencies. Everyone had to give something to reach a bipartisan compromise.”

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