Yesterday (May 8), the House Committee on Appropriations marked up the fiscal year (FY) 2020 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies bill and favorably reported the bill to the House by a roll call vote of 30 – 23. Representative Sanford Bishop (D-GA) filed an amendment to prohibit any funding to the Department of Health and Human Services to move forward with its proposed Medicaid NEMT regulation. The proposed regulation would repeal long-standing rules requiring State Medicaid plans to include necessary transportation to and from health care providers. The Bishop amendment was incorporated into an en bloc amendment (offered by Subcommittee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)) which passed by voice vote. APTA has been a vocal supporter of this effort and has joined several coalition letters urging Congress to preserve this vital NEMT benefit. The bill now proceeds to the full House of Representatives for consideration. To view the most recent NEMT coalition letter, please click here.
In addition, the Committee approved specific funding amounts, known as section 302(b) allocations, for each Appropriations Subcommittee. The allocations include a small increase to the top-line amount for the Subcommittee on Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies. The approved allocations bring the Appropriations bills one step closer to House Floor action this summer. The allocations were approved by the Committee by a vote of 30 – 22. To view the markup, please click here.
APTA Business Members Hold Fly-In for Investment in Public Transportation
Yesterday, nearly 40 members participated in APTA’s Annual Business Member Fly-In. Business Members met with Senators, Representatives, and key congressional staff in more than 80 Congressional offices from 26 States to advocate for increased investments in public transportation and the critical need to address the pending Highway Trust Fund shortfall. Prior to the meetings, Representative Rodney Davis (R-IL), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I), briefed the members on the challenges that Congress faces as it tries to develop consensus on how to fund a $2 trillion infrastructure bill.
House to Consider Supplemental Appropriations Act
Tomorrow (May 10), the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 2157, the “Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2019”, which was introduced by House Appropriations Committee Chair Nita Lowey (D-NY). The bill provides $17.2 billion in disaster aid to communities and federal agencies affected by natural disasters, including tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, and forest fires. This amount is about $3 billion more than a relief package (H.R. 268) that the House passed in January, and $4 billion more than Senate bill. The disaster aid appropriations would be designated as emergency supplemental funding, which does not count against discretionary spending caps.
For public transportation, the bill provides $10.5 million for the Public Transportation Emergency Relief Program for public transit systems affected by major declared disasters occurring in calendar year 2018. To view the bill, please click here.
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Holds Members Day Hearing
On May 1, the House T&I Committee held a “Members’ Day” hearing on infrastructure investment and FAST Act reauthorization to hear legislative ideas from their Congressional colleagues. Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-OR) said in his opening statement, “We now need to invest hundreds of billions of dollars [in infrastructure] to make up for past neglect and plan for the future…. We must now act to address this challenge by coming together and enacting legislation that will make a difference in every congressional district and to every member’s constituents.”
While the broad scope of the hearing was infrastructure overall, many of the Members discussed public transportation specifically, citing its vital role in communities. APTA actively engaged with Members of Congress to testify on behalf of public transportation, and more than one-half of all Members testifying (24 of 42 Members) mentioned the importance of investing in public transportation and/or intercity passenger rail in their testimony. Specific topics discussed included fixing the shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund, Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grants, Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) and Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing (RRIF) loan programs, the growing backlog of state of good repair, raising the gas tax, and the importance of high-speed rail.
Congressional Delegation Holds Field Roundtable of Gateway Project
On May 2-3, House T&I Committee Chairman DeFazio led a Congressional delegation to New Jersey to tour the Gateway Project and hold a roundtable discussion on it. Members of the delegation included House Appropriations Committee Chair Lowey and Reps. André Carson (D-IN), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), and Albio Sires (D-NJ).
Witnesses discussed the importance of moving forward with Gateway Project and included:
- Governor Phil Murphy (D-NJ)
- Tony Coscia, Chairman, Amtrak
- Kathy Wylde, President & CEO, Partnership for NYC
- Kevin Corbett, Executive Director, NJ Transit
- Steven M. Cohen, New York Trustee, Gateway Development Corporation
To view the roundtable, please click here.