November 18, 2015

H.R. 2577 – Transportation and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations, 2016

Noteworthy

Background: The Senate Appropriations Committee approved this bill in May on a 20-10 vote, with all Republicans and four Democrats voting in favor (Senators Mikulski, Feinstein, Schatz, and Baldwin).

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, signed into law on November 2, raised the discretionary spending caps for fiscal years 2016 and 2017. Due to this, subcommittee spending allocations will be updated and bills that passed the Senate Appropriations Committee earlier this year will be updated to make them consistent with the 2015 BBA.

Floor Situation: The Senate is currently debating the bill and amendments are expected.

Executive Summary: The substitute amendment proposed by Senators Collins and Reed totals $57.3 billion in budget authority, which is $1.6 billion above the original committee-reported bill and consistent with the BBA. The substitute amendment is $3.5 billion greater than fiscal year 2015 funding levels and $5.4 billion less than the president’s budget.

Notable Bill Provisions

The substitute amendment totals $57.3 billion in budget authority, which is $1.6 billion above the original committee-reported bill and consistent with the recently enacted Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. The bill is $3.5 billion greater than fiscal year 2015 funding levels and $5.4 billion less than the president’s budget.

Department of Transportation

The substitute amendment totals $18.5 billion for the Department of Transportation, $673 million greater than the fiscal year 2015 funding level and $3.2 billion less than the president’s budget. Notable funding levels include:

  • $40.26 billion for the Federal Highway Administration’s highway trust fund (this comes in the form of an obligation limitation and does not count toward discretionary budget authority). This amount is equal to the fiscal year 2015 level.
  • $16.3 billion for the Federal Aviation Administration, which is $549 million greater than the fiscal year 2015 funding level and $430 million above the president’s budget. Of this amount, the substitute amendment provides up to $60.1 million for the NextGen satellite-based air transportation system. NextGen GPS technology will help shorten flight routes, save time and fuel, and increase safety operations.
  • $10.5 billion for the Federal Transit Administration, which is $424 million less than the fiscal year 2015 level.
  • $1.68 billion for the Federal Railroad Administration, which is $53 million greater than the fiscal year 2015 level. The substitute amendment provides $1.4 billion for Amtrak, of which $288.5 million is for operations, $1.1 billion is for capital expenditures, and $17 million is for infrastructure improvements on the Northeast Corridor.
  • $50 million for rail safety grants, which includes supporting implementation of Positive Train Control. The deadline for implementation of Positive Train Control was recently extended until December 2018, along with an optional two years beyond 2018 if necessary.
  • $600 million for National Infrastructure Investments (or TIGER grants), which is $100 million above the fiscal year 2015 level. Not less than 30 percent of the funding shall be for projects located in rural areas. Secretary of Transportation must give concurrent notification to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations for any “quick release” of funds from the emergency relief program.
  • $397 million for the U.S. Maritime Administration, which is $56 million greater than the fiscal year 2015 level. More than half of the total, $210 million, is for the Maritime Security program.

Department of Housing and Urban Development

The substitute amendment totals $38.5 billion for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This total is nearly $3 billion greater than the fiscal year 2015 level and $2 billion less than the president’s budget. Notable funding levels include:

  • $27 billion for Public and Indian Housing, a $600 million increase above fiscal year 2015 and $1.7 billion below the president’s budget.
  • $5.7 billion for Community Planning and Development, which is $1 billion less than fiscal year 2015 levels. Of this amount, the substitute amendment contains $3 billion for community development block grants (a $100 million increase from the committee-reported bill). $2.2 billion is for homeless assistance grants.
  • HOME investment partnerships program is funded at $900 million, an increase of $834 million over the original committee-reported bill. This $900 million is equal to last year’s funding level, equal to the House level, and $160 million less than the president’s request.
  • The substitute permits an additional 300 public housing agencies to participate in the Moving-to-Work program. The program offers public housing authorities the opportunity to design and test locally designed strategies that use federal dollars more efficiently to help residents find employment and become self-sufficient. 
    • The substitute states that no funds shall be used by the Federal Housing Administration, the Government National Mortgage Administration, or the Department of Housing and Urban Development to insure, securitize, or establish a federal guarantee of any mortgage or mortgage backed security that refinances or otherwise replaces a mortgage that has been subject to eminent domain or seizure. 

Sections 411 and 412 include a requirement for funds provided by this act to be spent in a way that complies with the Buy American Act.

Administration Position

A Statement of Administration Policy is not yet available.

Cost

The substitute amendment totals $57.3 billion in budget authority, which is $1.6 billion above the original committee-reported bill and consistent with the recently enacted Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. The substitute amendment is $3.5 billion greater than fiscal year 2015 funding levels and $5.4 billion less than the president’s budget.

Amendments

The bill managers have encouraged members with amendments to work with the bill managers.