The overwhelming majority of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) continues to be shut down. During this lapse in appropriations, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is not able to execute grants, cooperative agreements, or contracts. Public transportation agencies who rely on grants to help fund operations and capital projects do not receive their reimbursements
during the partial government shutdown. In terms of workforce, the FTA has furloughed 88 percent of its employees (493 FTA employees). Most operations of the FTA have ceased to function except for issues related to life and safety. Conversely, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) continues to operate because the agency’s administrative expenses are funded differently from FTA. See DOT’s December 2018 shutdown plan.
APTA is conducting a survey of its members to better understand and quantify the effects of the shutdown on public transportation agencies, and provide information to Congress and the media. APTA continues to urge Congress and President Trump to find common ground and reopen DOT. Please take a few moments to answer our brief survey about the impacts of the shutdown on your agency. This information will be vital to our efforts in Washington. Please click the link below and provide your response as soon as possible, and no later than Tuesday, January 15.
Organizing the 116th Congress: Senate Elects Key Committee Members
Both the House and the Senate are organizing for the 116th Congress. On January 9, 2019, the Senate elected its committee members. Conversely, the House has elected Chairs and Ranking Members of most committees, but has not officially elected other committee members yet. After committees receive all assignments, the individual committees will begin to organize. On January 16, at 10:00 a.m., the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will meet to organize and ratify Subcommittee assignments for the 116th Congress (including election of the Chairs and Ranking Members). Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE) will chair the Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety. A live video of the session can be viewed on the Committee website here.
To find the membership of Senate committees important to public transportation and passenger rail, please click on the following links:
- Senate Committee on Appropriations
- Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
- Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
- Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
- Senate Committee on Finance
- Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
House Passes Transportation-HUD Appropriations Bill
Yesterday (January 10), the House of Representatives passed H.R. 267, the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (THUD), 2019, by a vote of
244 – 180. It is the same THUD legislation that the House passed last week to end the partial government shutdown for DOT—this time as a stand-alone bill rather than as part of a package. On January 9, the Administration released a Statement of Administration Policy recommending that the President veto the bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has stated that the Senate will not consider the bill because President Trump opposes it.
H.R. 267 reflects the THUD bill as passed by the Senate on August 1, 2018. It provides $16.1 billion for public transportation and intercity passenger rail, including $13.6 billion for public transportation and $2.5 billion for intercity passenger rail grants. These total funding levels are slightly less than the historic fiscal year (FY) 2018 funding levels but $1.3 billion more than authorized by the FAST Act for FY 2019. To view the bill in its entirety, please click here.
U.S. Department of Transportation Announces Funding Opportunity for Autonomous Vehicle Demonstration Grants
On December 21, 2018, DOT announced a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for Automated Driving System (ADS) Demonstration Grants to fund planning, direct research, and demonstration grants. DOT intends to issue up to $60 million in Federal funding to provide grants to eligible entities to fund demonstration projects that test the safe integration of automated driving systems into the Nation’s on-road transportation system. Applications are due by March 21, 2019. To view the NOFO, please click here. To provide additional information on the ADS demonstration grants, DOT will host an informational webinar on January 24, 2019. To register for the webinar please click here.