Next week, the House of Representatives is scheduled to consider H.R. 3055, which is a “minibus” appropriations bill that includes the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Appropriations bill (H.R. 3163) and several other appropriations bills for fiscal year (FY) 2020. The THUD Appropriations bill was approved by the House Committee on Appropriations on June 4, 2019. For details on the THUD Appropriations bill, please see APTA’s previous Legislative Update. To view the minibus appropriations bill (including the THUD Appropriations Division (Division E)), please click here.
Depending on which public transportation and passenger rail amendments are made in order, we may send a Legislative Alert to you early next week asking for your assistance in opposing or supporting specific amendments.
House Armed Services Committee Seeks to Block Chinese Railcar Procurement
On Thursday (June 13), the House Committee on Armed Services approved H.R. 2500, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020. The bill includes a provision that prohibits public transit agencies from using Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funds to buy railcars manufactured by “foreign state-owned, -controlled, or -subsidized enterprises.” This provision was included due to the growing cybersecurity concerns with railcars manufactured by foreign state-owned companies. To view the bill, please click here.
On Wednesday (June 19), the Subcommittee on Oversight of the House Committee on Ways and Means will hold a hearing on a provision in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (P.L. 115-97) that subjects charities, nonprofits, and religious organizations to a tax on some employee benefits. The law imposes a 21 percent tax rate on benefits, such as public transportation subsidies and free parking, which were previously exempt for nonprofits. This has led several organizations to consider dropping these benefits. For more details on the hearing, please visit the Committee website here.
On June 19, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, which has jurisdiction over passenger rail and highway safety legislation, will hold its first hearing on FAST Act reauthorization.
On Thursday (June 20), the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure plans to hold a hearing entitled “The State of the Rail Workforce”.
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Leaders Urge Action on Highway Rescission
On June 12, Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) and Ranking Member Thomas Carper (D-DE) sent a letter to Senate Leaders urging repeal of a provision in the FAST Act that rescinds $7.6 billion in federal highway funding on July 1, 2020. The EPW leaders noted that they are making progress on a comprehensive surface transportation authorization bill, but it will not be ready in time to address the scheduled rescission. In the letter, the Senators encouraged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) to include the provision in a budget or spending agreement that would pass before the end of the fiscal year (September 30, 2019).
Similarly, on May 20, APTA joined a Coalition letter to Congressional leaders urging them to include a repeal of the highway contract authority rescission in any budget agreement. To view the APTA Coalition letter, please click here.
On June 10, APTA joined the Municipal Bonds for America in a letter thanking lawmakers for introducing H.R. 2772, the Investing in Our Communities Act of 2019. The legislation would reinstate the ability to issue tax-exempt advance refunding bonds. To view the letter, please click here.