July 23, 2009
House Passes Huge Spending Increases in the Transportation – Housing Appropriations Bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House today passed the Fiscal Year 2010 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations legislation. The bill contains a total of $123.1 billion, including $68.8 billion in discretionary spending which is $13.8 billion - or 25% - over last year’s level. This does not include the $61.8 billion included in the “stimulus” bill for transportation and housing programs. When all appropriations spending is combined, programs funded within the bill passed today will have increase 146% since the Democrats took over in fiscal year 2007.
However, even with the massive increase included in the bill, the legislation does nothing to address the looming shortfalls in the Highway Trust Fund – which is expected to become insolvent within a matter of weeks. This means that without Congress providing an emergency infusion of cash, payments to States for transportation projects will start to be affected in August.
“Approving these huge increases without doing anything about the budget disasters looming on the horizon - including the draining of the Highway Trust Fund – will only magnify our nation’s financial problems,” House Appropriations Ranking Republican Jerry Lewis said.
House Appropriations Ranking Republican Jerry Lewis expressed his strong opposition to the massive spending increases in the bill.
“This bill is the latest in a series of big-spending Appropriations bills that over-fund political priorities while avoiding any tough decisions to hold spending to reasonable levels. This country simply cannot afford a 25 percent increase for transportation and housing programs - paid for with money we do not have - when we’re already facing trillion dollar deficits and unsustainable national debt,” Lewis said.
Specifically, Lewis and House Republicans objected to the inclusion of $4 billion for high speed rail in the bill, which is in addition to the $8 billion provided by the recently enacted “stimulus” legislation. The bill allows $2 billion of this rail funding to be used for a non-existent “National Infrastructure Bank” – which currently has not been created by Congress and has not been officially proposed by the Administration. In addition, House Republicans objected to the creation of a new "Transformation Initiative Program" in the bill, which allows 1 percent from almost any HUD program to be used like a “slush” fund for research, capacity building, technical assistance and demonstration programs with little direction, transparency or accountability for the spending.