Appropriations Committee Releases the Fiscal Year 2015 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Bill
The House Appropriations Committee today released the fiscal year 2015 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development funding bill, which will be considered in subcommittee tomorrow. The legislation includes funding for the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and other related agencies.
In total, the bill reflects an allocation of $52 billion in discretionary spending – an increase of $1.2 billion above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and a decrease of $7.8 billion below the President’s budget request. However, given the reduction in offsets caused by a decline in Federal Housing Administration receipts, the program level within the bill is more accurately $1.8 billion below the current level. Within the legislation, funds are targeted toward transportation, infrastructure, and housing programs of national need and significance that have the biggest impact on Americans and communities across the country.
“This bill makes responsible choices to trim programs while targeting taxpayer dollars where they are needed most –critical transportation and housing programs that our communities, our economy, and our people rely on,” House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers said. “While there is always more to do, this bill is a good step in the right direction, investing in these important programs to prepare our nation’s infrastructure for future economic growth, and to take care of our most vulnerable citizens.”
Subcommittee Chairman Tom Latham added, “My priorities in this process were to act in a bipartisan fashion to fund our most vital programs with our critical need to reduce the deficit. This is a sound, commonsense bill that meets our highest transportation and housing priorities in a fiscally responsible way. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to move this important legislation forward in an open legislative process.”
The bill meets the allocation of $52 billion in discretionary spending – an increase of $1.2 billion above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level. However, given the reduction in offsets caused by a decline in Federal Housing Administration receipts, the program level within the bill is more accurately $1.8 billion below the current level. The bill prioritizes funding for critical transportation projects and programs that are essential to the nation’s economic growth, efficient commerce, and the quality of life of American families, and for programs that support the housing needs of our most vulnerable citizens. While targeting funds for these efforts, the bill also reflects responsible choices to reduce spending in lower-priority areas and seeks to make the most out of every tax dollar.
Transportation – The bill includes $17.1 billion in discretionary appropriations for the Department of Transportation for fiscal year 2015. This is $727.3 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $5.8 billion below the President’s request. Within this amount, funding is prioritized on programs and activities with national need or significance, and that will help bolster our nation’s transportation system to support economic growth.
- Highways – The bill provides nearly $40.25 billion from the Highway Trust Fund to be spent on the Federal Highway program. This is equal to the fiscal year 2014 level. This funding is contingent on the enactment of new transportation authorization legislation, as the current authorization expires this year.
- Air – Included in the legislation is $15.7 billion in total budgetary resources for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which is $7.3 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $446 million above the request. This will provide full funding for all air traffic control personnel, including 14,800 air traffic controllers, 7,300 safety inspectors, and operational support personnel.
The bill also fully funds the FAA’s Next Generation Air Transportation Systems (NextGen) at $852.4 million, and funds Contract Towers at $140 million. These investments will help ease future congestion and help reduce delays for travelers in U.S. airspace. In addition, the bill rejects the Administration’s proposals for new passenger facility and general aviation fees.
- Rail – The Federal Railroad Administration is funded at $1.4 billion, a reduction of $193 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level. This includes $340 million for Amtrak operations – which will continue service for all current routes – and $850 million for capital grants. The bill also continues policy reforms for Amtrak to ensure the best use of tax dollars, such as requiring overtime limits on Amtrak employees to reduce unnecessary costs, and prohibiting federal funding for routes where Amtrak offers a discount of 50% or more off normal, peak fares. No funding is provided for High-Speed Rail.
In addition, rail safety and research programs are funded at $220.5 million, $750,000 over the fiscal year 2014 enacted level. This will fund inspectors and training to help ensure the safety of communities and the thousands of passengers that use commuter, regional, and long-distance rail every day.
- Transit – The bill provides for $10.5 billion for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) – $253 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level. Transit formula grants are funded at $8.6 billion, consistent with 2014 and the final year of MAP-21 authorization legislation, and will to help local communities build, maintain, and ensure the safety of their mass transit systems. This funding is contingent on the enactment of new transportation authorization legislation, as the current authorization expires this year.
Within this amount, the legislation provides a total of $1.7 billion for Capital Investment Grants (“New Starts”), full funding for all current “Full Funding Grant Agreement” transit projects, and full funding for all state and local “Small Starts” projects that will begin in fiscal year 2015. These programs provide competitive grant funding for major transit capital investments – including rapid rail, light rail, bus rapid transit, and commuter rail – that are planned and operated by local communities.
- Maritime – The legislation includes $305 million for the Maritime Administration, a decrease of $72 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level. The bill will help promote U.S. commerce by providing funding to ensure the efficiency and safety of the nation’s ports and intermodal water and land transportation.
- Safety – The legislation contains funding for the various transportation safety programs and agencies within the Department of Transportation. This includes $824 million in both mandatory and discretionary funding for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) – an increase of $5 million over the fiscal year 2014 enacted level – and $572 million for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Also included is $205.2 million for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, an increase of $19.4 million over the fiscal year 2014 enacted level, to help address a variety of safety concerns, including those related to the transport of crude oil, coal, and other hazardous substances.
- Grants – The legislation funds National Infrastructure Investment grants (also known as TIGER grants) at $100 million, $500 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted and $1.15 billion below the request. However, the legislation limits the use of these grants to projects that will address critical transportation needs, such as road, highway, and bridge construction and improvement, and port and railroad intermodal improvements. The legislation does not allow these funds to be used for non-essential purposes, such as street-scaping, or bike and pedestrian paths.
Housing and Urban Development (HUD) – The legislation includes a total of $40.3 billion for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, a decrease of $769 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $2 billion below the request. The bill does not contain funding for any new, unauthorized “sustainable,” “livable,” or “green” community development programs.
- Section 8 and Public Housing – Included in the bill is $26.3 billion for Public and Indian Housing. This is an increase of $6.2 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $1.2 billion below the requested level. This funding will provide for continued assistance to all families and individuals currently served by this program. The bill also fully funds the President’s request for veterans’ housing vouchers at $75 million.
Other housing programs within the bill are funded at $10.4 billion – a reduction of $115.6 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level. While a reduction, this funding will continue assistance to all those currently served by these programs. In addition, the bill provides $420 million for Housing for the Elderly, $36.5 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level, and $135 million for Housing for Persons with Disabilities, an increase of $9 million above the fiscal year 2014 enacted level.
Community Planning and Development – The bill contains $6.2 billion for Community Planning and Development programs – a reduction of $383 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level. The Community Development Block Grant formula program is funded at $3 billion – effectively equal to last year’s level – while the HOME Investment Partnerships Program is funded at $700 million, a reduction of $300 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level. Homeless assistance grants are funded at $2.1 billion – the same as the previous year’s level – which is sufficient for all current grants to be continued.
For the subcommittee draft text of the legislation, please visit: http://appropriations.house.gov/UploadedFiles/BILLS-113HR-SC-AP-FY2015-TransHUD-SubcommitteeDraft.pdf