To the Members of the U.S. House of Representatives:
On behalf of the more than 1,500 member organizations of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), I write to convey our views on the U.S. Department of Transportation funding provisions within the fiscal year 2018 (FY18) appropriations bill, H.R. 3354, the “Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act, 2018.”
APTA is grateful that the legislation funds Federal Transit Administration (FTA) programs supported by the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund at the $9.733 billion level authorized by the FAST Act and appreciates the bill language directing the Secretary of Transportation to both continue administering the Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program in accordance with the procedural and substantive requirements of current law, and transmit to Congress the Annual Report on Capital Investment Grants with the FY19 budget proposal, including proposed funding allocations. Therefore, APTA supports the Jackson-Lee amendment #28, which would demonstrate additional support for continuing the CIG program as authorized by the FAST Act. In addition, APTA is grateful that the legislation continues support for Amtrak and fully funds the commitment to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority made under Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008.
However, we are deeply concerned that the legislation sets total funding for the CIG program at $1.753 billion, which is $549 million below the level authorized in the FAST Act, and eliminates the TIGER grant program. We are particularly concerned that this bill does not provide sufficient funding for several CIG projects Congress supported and appropriated money to in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017. This would potentially stall the progress of these projects and slow the entire CIG pipeline. Therefore, APTA opposes any amendments that would reduce funding for public transportation or rail programs, including Brooks #48, which would eliminate funding for Amtrak’s long-distance routes, and Budd #83, which would reduce funding for rail and transit capital projects by $474 million.
While this legislation is an important step toward completing the FY18 appropriations process, we urge Congress to swiftly enact a bipartisan budget agreement that lifts the current spending caps under the Budget Control Act. Congress should use that opportunity to increase funding allocations to fully fund all programs authorized by the FAST Act, including providing at least $2.3 billion for the CIG program. Raising the caps will allow Congress to provide the necessary funding to invest in our infrastructure and avoid across the board spending reductions triggered by sequestration.
We look forward to working with you as the FY18 appropriations process continues.
Richard A. White
Acting President and CEO