Minimal Transportation Cuts Included in Trump’s $15.4B Rescission Plan

While it may seem like hundreds of millions of transportation-related dollars are being targeted for cuts by the Trump administration as part of a $15.4 billion, 41-page rescission request made by the Office of Management and Budget on May 8, in reality, aims to "eliminate" monies that are unlikely to get fully spent.

Under the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, the Trump administration seeks to formally zero-out allocated yet unspent funds from a variety of older programs under what the White House is describing as "the first of several" rescission requests.

OMB noted that these cuts largely affect authorized funding that hasn't been paid out, meaning they are focused almost entirely on unspent dollars from previous years.

In terms of direct transportation project funding, cut requests include:

  • Slashing $179 million from Federal Highway Administration programs dating back to 2001, including monies earmarked for highway projects in Appalachia. However, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials stressed one key point about that funding: most of it was dedicated to specific projects designated by Congress; projects that, for one reason or another, didn't move forward. And since it was earmarked money, state departments of transportation could not re-allocate it to other projects

  • Cutting more than $53 million appropriated in 2010 for a high speed rail corridor project linking Chicago and Iowa City, Iowa.

  • Eliminating more than $47 million from transit formula grants appropriated from the general fund in fiscal 2005 and earlier; monies that are now funneled through the Highway Trust Fund's mass transit account.

There are also a number of other transportation-related funding cuts included in the rescission request as well, such as removing $4.3 billion from the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program (which has not made a loan since 2011, according to the White House) and eliminating $133 million from the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Extended Benefits program that expired in 2012.