FY 2014 Transportation Funding Cut in Proposed House Appropriations Measure while Senate Seeks to Bump Up Funding

AASHTO Journal, 21 June 2013

The House Committee on Appropriations this week released its proposal for a fiscal year 2014 funding bill for Transportation, Housing and Urban Development that fully funds MAP-21 but proposes cuts to the TIGER grant program and Amtrak. Meanwhile, the Senate Appropriations Committee this week released its proposed THUD budget allocations, which would add $2 billion in spending.

In all, the House measure cuts $7.7 billion from 2013 enacted spending levels, nearly $14 billion under the levels in President Obama’s proposed budget and $4.4 billion below the level resulting from sequestration cuts. The Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies passed the measure by a voice vote, moving the measure to the full Appropriations Committee.

“This bill is an example of the current budgetary trade-offs facing our nation—the need to make deep cuts to meet our fiscal constraints and address the deficit while maintaining funding for important government programs and services,” said House Appropriations Committee Chair Hal Rogers (R-KY) in a statement. “This legislation reflects this dual goal, making the best use of limited tax dollars by focusing investments on transportation infrastructure critical to our economy and maintaining housing options for our most vulnerable citizens, while reducing or eliminating funding for lower-priority programs.”

The House appropriations bill fully funds the current surface transportation bill, MAP-21, by providing $41 billion from the Highway Trust Fund to be spent on the federal highway program and just over $10.5 billion for HTF 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, however, was allocated to high-speed rail and funding for Amtrak was cut significantly. Also eliminated in this measure was funding for TIGER grants.

In the House Appropriations measure, the Federal Transit Administration would receive almost $2 billion, or $329.7 million below the FY 2013 enacted level, though the New Starts and Small Starts competitive grant program would be fully funded at $1.82 billion. The U.S. Maritime Administration would receive $326 million, resulting in a $25 million decrease from the FY 2013 level. Finally, the Federal Aviation Administration would be allocated $11.8 billion, a $756 million cut from FY 2013 enacted levels, though the funding would avoid the need for furloughs of air traffic controllers.

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday released its budget allocations for the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development subcommittee, which amounted to $54 billion ($10 billion more than what House appropriators allocated), or $2 billion more than the current FY 2013 funding level. The Senate subcommittee is expected to mark up its THUD budget proposal next week. ​​

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