On Tuesday, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD), and Related Agencies approved the FY2016 appropriations bill. The full Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to mark up the bill approved by the subcommittee today on Thursday, June 25 at 10 am. The information provided below is preliminary because the full bill text will not be available until the full committee markup on Thursday. We will provide a more detailed summary when that information becomes available.
The bill provides for $55.65 billion in total discretionary spending, an increase of $1.88 billion above last year's spending levels. This is, however, $7 billion below the President's budget request.
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) programs are funded at $10.5 billion, $424 million below the FY2015 enacted level. Of this, the formula programs make up $8.6 billion, contingent on the enactment of a new authorization by the end of this fiscal year. In addition, the bill provides $1.6 billion for Capital Investment Grants (New Starts), which the committee reports will fully fund all current and new "Full Funding Grant Agreement" transit projects. This New Starts funding includes $75 million for core capacity projects and $30 million for Small Starts projects. TIGER grants would receive $500 million, or level funding from the previous year.
The House-passed bill funds FTA programs at $10.726 billion, with total New Starts funding at $1.921 billion. The House bill includes $353 million for Small Starts and $40 million for core capacity projects.
For the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), $1.68 billion is provided, an increase of $53 million over the FY2015 enacted levels. Included in this total is $289 million for Amtrak operations, and $1.1 billion for capital grants. An additional $17 million is provided for the Northeast Corridor. Finally, $50 million is included for Positive Train Control implementation and grade crossings.
Senators Introduce Six-Year Surface Transportation Reauthorization Bill
Also on Tuesday, Senators Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), David Vitter (R-LA) and Tom Carper (D-DE) introduced the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act. This legislation would authorize $278 billion in contract authority over a six-year period beginning in FY2016 for Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) programs. The final two month period of FY2015 is not currently included in this bill. This increases the Congressional Budget Office's inflation-adjusted baseline by over $11 billion through September 2021, for a total of about $80 billion needed to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent. This legislation is scheduled to be marked up by the Committee on Environment and Public Works on Wednesday, June 24 at 9:30 am. Of the legislation, Chairman Inhofe stated, "The DRIVE Act will provide states and local communities with the certainty they deserve to plan and construct infrastructure projects efficiently." For the full text of the bill, click here.