Yesterday, Senate Committee on Appropriations Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT) released the legislative text of nine appropriations bills, including S. ____, the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (Senate THUD Appropriations bill).
The Senate THUD Appropriations bill provides $13.5 billion for public transit, an increase of $503 million from the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 THUD Appropriations Act. The bill provides $3.4 billion for passenger rail grants, an increase of $863 million from the FY 2021 enacted level. In total, the bill provides $16.9 billion for public transit and passenger rail, an increase of $1.4 billion from the FY 2021 enacted level.
The legislation bases the public transit contract authority levels on the FAST Act extension act and does not assume enactment of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). This approach results in a lower level of contract authority and obligation authority for public transit than if the IIJA is enacted. (APTA is actively advocating for enactment of the IIJA and for THUD Appropriations legislation to reflect the higher IIJA funding levels.) However, the bill continues to provide General Fund appropriations greater than the amounts authorized in the FAST Act extension act. The bill includes an additional $757 million of General Fund appropriations for certain formula and competitive grant programs, such as grants for buses and bus facilities. Within the General Fund appropriation, the bill set aside $153 million for congressionally directed spending on designated transit projects.
At this point, there is not bipartisan agreement on the appropriations bills and it is unlikely that the Senate Appropriations Committee will mark up the THUD Appropriations bill. However, the draft bill will likely be used as the starting point for negotiations with the House Appropriations Committee to reach a bicameral agreement in the coming months. If Congress enacts the IIJA this fall, the THUD Appropriations bill will likely be significantly rewritten in conference to reflect IIJA funding levels.
The bill provides $2.2 billion for Capital Investment Grants (CIG), including $1.425 billion for New Starts, $450 million for Core Capacity projects, $251 million for Small Starts, and $100 million for the Expedited Project Delivery for CIG Pilot Program. Please click here to view APTA’s CIG Project Pipeline Dashboard.
The bill prohibits the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) from impeding or hindering a project from advancing or approving a project seeking a CIG federal share of more than 40 percent and from implementing any policies that require a CIG project to receive a medium or higher project rating before finalizing an environmental impact statement.
The bill also authorizes projects in the Expedited Project Delivery for CIG Pilot Program to be eligible for funding under the CIG program without further evaluation or rating.
Finally, the THUD Appropriation bill includes language blocking the Rostenkowski Test to prevent an across-the-board cut of FY 2022 transit formula funds to each public transit agency.
The bill provides $3.4 billion for passenger rail investments, including $2.7 billion for Amtrak grants, $523 million for Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement (CRISI) grants, and $220 million for Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair grants. Within the CRISI appropriation, the Senate bill sets aside $121 million for congressionally directed spending on designated CRISI projects. The Senate THUD Appropriations bill also expands the eligible use of CRISI grants to include commuter rail projects to implement or sustain positive train control systems.
U.S. Department of Transportation Programs
The bill provides $1.09 billion for Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) competitive grants (formerly BUILD and TIGER grants) for surface transportation projects, including public transportation and multi-modal projects. DOT may use up to 20 percent of these funds for the subsidy and administrative costs of projects eligible for Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) or Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) federal credit assistance. Please click here to view APTA’s letter to Secretary of Transportation Peter Buttigieg regarding the RAISE grant program.
Finally, the bill creates a new resiliency coastal transportation infrastructure program, the Building Resilient Infrastructure Through Innovative Solutions program. The Senate THUD Appropriations bill provides $300 million for competitive grants to address the long-term risk of sea level rise and develop innovative solutions to improve resiliency. Public transit agencies are eligible recipients for the grants, and the program includes criteria similar to the RAISE grant program.