May 11, 2016

S. 2844 - Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017

Noteworthy

Background: The fiscal year 2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill was reported out of the Senate Appropriations Committee on April 21 on a 30-0 vote.

Floor Situation: The Senate is expected to debate the bill after consideration of the Energy and Water Appropriations bill.

Executive Summary: The bill would fund the departments of Transportation and HUD, as well as related agencies, at $56.5 billion in regular discretionary budget authority. This is consistent with the 302(b) allocations derived from the Appropriations Committee’s total 302(a) allocation of $1.07 trillion.

Considerations on the Bill

The Appropriations Committee’s 302(a) allocation for all appropriations bills is $1.07 trillion, equal to the amount contained in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. The Transportation and HUD bill’s total spending of $56.5 billion is $827 million less than fiscal year 2016, and it is $2.9 billion less than the president’s budget request. Due to the administration’s practice in its budget request of cutting discretionary funding for various activities and then proposing new mandatory funding for these activities as a way to get around budget caps, comparisons with the president’s budget request should be made with caution. This is especially true in the president’s request for certain transportation funding, where he proposed shifting $7.4 billion worth of funding in transportation programs from discretionary to mandatory funding; the Senate bill rejects these proposals.

Of the bill’s discretionary spending, $275 million is for defense, and the remainder is nondefense. The bill does not have mandatory funding, however it does include a limitation on obligations for funds in the Highway Trust Fund.

Legislative text of the bill is available here, and text of the committee report is available here.

Notable Bill Provisions

Department of Transportation

The bill contains $16.9 billion in regular discretionary funding for the Department of Transportation. This is $1.7 billion less than the fiscal year 2016 level and is $2.5 billion less than the president’s budget request. The committee did not include any funding for “21st century clean transportation plan investments” that the president had requested in his budget to be paid for by a new oil tax of $10.25 per barrel.

National Infrastructure Investments

These grants, also known as TIGER grants, are funded at $525 million, $25 million greater than the fiscal year 2016 level and $725 million below the president’s (mandatory) funding request.

Federal-Aid Highways

The bill validates the latest highway bill’s spending of $44 billion from the Highway Trust Fund as a limitation on obligations.

Federal Aviation Administration

The bill includes $16.4 billion for the FAA, $132 million above the fiscal year 2016 level and $513 million above the president’s budget request. Of this amount, $1 billion is made available for Next Generation Air Transportation Systems. The bill rejects both of the president’s proposals to remove formula funds from large airports and increase passenger facility charges.

Federal Railroad Administration

The bill provides $1.7 billion for the Federal Railroad Administration, which is $76 million greater than the fiscal year 2016 level. The vast majority of this, $1.4 billion, is a grant to Amtrak. The Amtrak funding is $30 million greater than last year.

Federal Transit Administration

The bill provides $12.3 billion for the FTA, $575 million greater than the fiscal year 2016 level. Included in this amount are: $9.7 billion for transit formula grants, equal to the latest highway bill and $386 million greater than the fiscal year 2016 level; and $2.3 billion for Capital Investment Grants, $161 million greater than last year’s level and $1.16 billion less than the president’s budget request.

Maritime Administration

The bill includes $485 million for the Maritime Administration, $86 million greater than fiscal year 2016 and $62 million greater than the president’s request. Within this amount, $275 million is provided for the Maritime Security Program, $65 million greater than last year’s level and $64 million greater than the president’s request. This Maritime Security Program is the only defense (function 050) funding in the bill.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

The bill provides $891 million for NHTSA - $160 million of this is via appropriations and $731 million is via obligation limitations. The total is $15 million greater than the fiscal year 2016 budgetary resources, and $290 million less than the president’s request.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The bill provides $644 million, all via a limitation on obligations, which is $150 million less than the president’s request and $63.8 million more than the fiscal year 2016 level. Funding provided is equal to the levels in the latest highway bill.

Department of Housing and Urban Development

The bill includes $39.2 billion for HUD, $891 million above the fiscal year 2016 level and $446 million less than the budget request.

Community Planning and Development

The bill provides $6.7 billion for these programs, which is $18 million above the fiscal year 2016 level and $160 million less than the president’s budget request. The Community Development Block Grant program is funded at $3 billion, equal to last year’s level and $200 million greater than the president’s budget. The HOME Investment Partnership program is funded at $950 million, equal to last year’s level and $10 million more than the budget request. Homeless assistance grants are funded at $2.3 billion, $80 million greater than in fiscal year 2016 and $334 million less than the president’s budget.

Housing Programs

The bill provides $27.9 billion for public and Indian housing programs, $1 billion greater than the fiscal year 2016 level and $357 million less than the president’s budget. This amount is necessary to maintain existing rental assistance and does not provide additional vouchers with the exception of $50 million for homeless veterans and $20 million for youth.

Independent Agencies

The bill includes $339 million for independent agencies. The Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation is funded at $135 million, $40 million less than in fiscal year 2016 and $5 million less than the president’s budget. The National Transportation Safety Board is funded at $106 million, which is nearly $1 million greater than fiscal year 2016 and equal to the president’s request.

Administration Position

A statement of administration policy is not available at this time.

Cost

The bill contains $56.5 billion in regular discretionary budget authority, which is consistent with the 302(b) allocations derived from the Appropriations Committee’s total 302(a) allocation of $1.07 trillion.

Amendments

The amendment situation is unclear at this time.