By a vote of 29 to 21, the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations formally approved a fiscal year 2020 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies or THUD funding bill that would provide the U.S. Department of Transportation with a total budget of $86.6 billion; roughly $167 million above the amount enacted for fiscal year 2019 and $3.7 billion above the amount request in President Trump’s budget proposal issued back in March.
“This year’s [THUD] funding bill represents a positive, inclusive vision for our country,” noted Rep. David Price, D-N.C., chairman of the THUD subcommittee, in a statement. “It makes forward-looking investments in our housing and transportation infrastructure, while ensuring concerted attention to safety, the needs of the most vulnerable, and resilience. It will benefit all American communities – urban and rural – and lays the foundation for economic growth and opportunity.”
Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., chairwoman of the full Appropriations Committee, noted that the current version of the THUD funding bill would “equip” the USDOT to “fund safety upgrades on our roads and rails as well as [conduct] safety research.”
She added that “this bill also would provide adequate funding for the federal share of one of the most important transportation projects in our country to advance commuter safety and the economy – the Gateway tunnel between New Jersey and New York. With this bill, we have the opportunity to invest in our infrastructure and fundamentally improve the lives of our constituents.”
The bill also includes:
1 billion for national infrastructure investments via the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development or BUILD grant program.
$10 million to fund a new program, the Highly Automated Systems Safety Center of Excellence.
$48.9 billion for the Federal Highway Administration, which is $404 million below FY 2019 but $1.7 billion above the president’s budget request.
$1.75 billion for discretionary Highway Infrastructure Programs, which is $1.5 billion below FY 2019 but $1.45 billion above the president’s budget request.
$13.5 billion for the Federal Transit Administration, which is $60 million above FY 2019 and $1.1 billion above the president’s budget request.
However, one potential snag that could jeopardize passage of the FY 2020 THUD bill by the House is a “policy rider” adopted by voice vote that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from completing work on revised fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars and light trucks contained within the Safer Affordable Fuel Efficient Vehiclesrulemaking initiated in August last year.
Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, ranking member on the Appropriations Committee, said in a statement that policy rider “hamstrings the U.S. Department of Transportation from common-sense rulemaking.”
She added that the overall THUD bill is also “drafted at a funding level that does not have broad consensus needed to be signed into law”