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American Public Transportation Association

 Congress Introduces Omnibus Spending Package and FTA Partial-Year Apportions Released

March 22, 2018


Congress Introduces Omnibus Spending Package and FTA Partial-Year Apportions Release

Background

On Wednesday night, leadership of both parties in both chambers of Congress announced that a deal had been reached on a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending package for the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2018, which began October 1, 2017. Since that date, the federal government has been operating under five continuing funding resolutions (CRs) of varying lengths, the latest of which is set to expire this Friday, March 23, 2018.

The most significant hurdle that Congress had to deal with was the threat of previously mandated sequestration cuts that would have been imposed if they did not reach an agreement to raise the budget caps for both defense, and non-defense discretionary spending. In the previous CR, a two-year budget deal was included to raise the budget caps by significant amounts, which allowed the Appropriations Committees of both chambers to move ahead and begin writing bills to fund the government in earnest. Non-defense discretionary spending was increased by $63 billion for FY 2018 (which we are currently in the middle of) and $68 billion for FY 2019 (which will begin October 1, 2018). Various subcommittees of the Appropriations Committees have already began holding hearings for FY 2019 appropriations.

The House of Representatives passed this bill on Thursday by a vote of 256 – 167.

Omnibus Appropriations Bill

Federal Transit Administration (FTA)
Overall, the bill provides about $13.5 billion in budgetary resources for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), which is an increase of more than $1 billion as compared to FY 2017 enacted levels. Programs funded by Mass Transit Account (MTA) of the Highway Trust Fund received $9.733 billion, as authorized by the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act for FY 2018. A handful of programs traditionally funded by the MTA also received an additional $834 million from the general fund, including $400 million for Bus and Bus Facilities grant programs, $400 million for State of Good Repair, and $30 million for High Density States. Of the Bus and Bus Facilities funding, $209.1 million is allocated to formula grants, $161.45 for competitive grants, and $29.45 for no or low emissions grants.

The Capital Investment Grants (CIG) program was appropriated $2.645 billion, up from $2.413 billion in FY 2017. This total includes more than $1.5 billion for New Starts, almost $716 million for Core Capacity projects, and almost $401 million for Small Starts. The bill also contains strong, legislative language to ensure the future of the CIG program. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) received $150 million, as they have for the past several years.

Money was also appropriated for administrative costs and other programs.

Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)
The bill also appropriates nearly $3.1 billion for rail infrastructure and safety programs, an increase of $1.2 billion from FY 2017 enacted levels. Included in this is $250 million for Federal-State State of Good Repair Grants up from $25 million in FY 2017, and $20 million for Restoration and Enhancement grants, which is $15 million more than FY 2017. Additionally, the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement (CRISI) program created in the FAST Act received $593 million, which $525 million more than FY 2017. Within CRISI, $250 million is specifically for positive train control (PTC) grants and open to commuter railroads. This money will be distributed through FTA, similar to the $197 million for PTC allocated in FY 2017.

This bill would provide $1.9 billion for Amtrak overall. Of this, $650 million goes to Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor (NEC), which is $322 million more than FY 2017 enacted levels, and $1.29 billion for Amtrak’s National Network.

Money was also appropriated for administrative costs and other programs.

Other
The TIGER program is funded at a level of $1.5. billion, $1 billion more than FY 2017 enacted levels.

  • To view documents on the omnibus package from the House of Representatives Majority click here, and Minority click here.
  • To view documents on the omnibus package from the Senate Majority click here, and Minority click here.

FTA Apportionments Released

On March 19, 2018, FTA released their partial-year apportionments for FY 2018. They represent half of FY 2018. They can be found on the FTA website here​.​
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