July 20, 2010
Transportation, Housing Appropriations Bill Approved by Committee
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Appropriations Committee today approved the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) funding legislation for the next fiscal year. The bill contains $67.4 billion in spending. This funding level is $500 million below the previous year – however, the bill was increased last year by a whopping 23%.
House Appropriations Ranking Republican Jerry Lewis opposed the legislation, saying that the country cannot afford this level of spending in the midst of unprecedented national deficits and debt and a struggling economy. Republicans on the Appropriations Committee had previously offered an overall spending proposal to cut Appropriations allocations for fiscal year 2011, including limiting spending in the THUD bill to $65 billion, or 4% below last year’s level. This would have saved taxpayers more than $2 billion compared to the House Democrats’ legislation.
“While transportation and housing programs are important, now is not the time to continue to pour billions in unnecessary spending into programs that have already benefited from huge funding increases over the last three years. We need to start reining in spending now, and a 4% reduction in the THUD bill from last year is a relatively small but meaningful action to help put us on a more sustainable budget path,” Lewis said.
Republicans offered several amendments to address the concerns regarding spending in the bill and other important items. Some of these amendments included:
1.) Rep. Culbertson (R-TX) offered an amendment to cut approximately $12 billion in spending from the overall cost of the bill. This would bring the cost of the bill down to the Fiscal Year 2009 funding level.
The amendment was defeated by Committee Democrats on a vote of 20-36.
2.) Subcommittee Ranking Member Latham (R-IA) offered an amendment to cut approximately $2 billion in spending from the overall cost of the bill. The reductions would affect accounts in the bill that are funded above the President’s request. This amendment would amount to a savings of approximately three cents for every dollar in bill.
The amendment was defeated by Committee Democrats on a vote of 18-36.
3.) Ranking Member Lewis (R-CA) offered an amendment to automatically reduce highway spending in the bill so that Highway Trust Fund will remain solvent until the end of 2012. With the large level of highway spending in the legislation, the CBO estimates the Highway Trust Fund with become bankrupt by 2012, which will spur reduced and delayed payments to states, and may prompt yet more taxpayer bailouts for the program.
The amendment was defeated by Committee Democrats on a vote of 17-35.
4.) Rep. Carter (R-TX) offered an amendment to require that discretionary highway and transit funds that do not have a specific designation in the bill be distributed by formula to the states, and not be distributed through new boutique grant programs with hand-picked recipients chosen by the Secretary of Transportation.
The amendment was defeated by Committee Democrats on a vote of 19-36.
5.) Rep. LaTourette (R-OH) offered an amendment to move $200 million in funds from “Livable Communities Grants” from the Highway Trust Fund into regular budget authority. These programs are funded with Highway Trust Fund dollars, but have little to do with road-building or other road activities.
The amendment was defeated by Committee Democrats on a voice vote.