June 9, 2014
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers made the following statement on the House floor today in support of H.R. 4745, the Fiscal Year 2015 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill:
"Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 4745, the Fiscal Year 2015 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations Bill.
"This bill – the fourth of 12 appropriations bills that I hope to bring to the floor before August – continues to move the ball down the field toward our goal of completing all our appropriations work on time within the framework of the Ryan-Murray budget deal.
"The bill contains a fiscally responsible level of discretionary funding – $52 billion for the important Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development – agencies that support critical transportation infrastructure, safety, and housing assistance programs.
"With this bill in particular, we had to make some smart but difficult decisions. Although the 302(b) allocation is $1.2 billion more than last year’s level, when technical adjustments are taken into account it is more than one billion below the current level. As Chairman Latham described, this is due to a considerable drop in Federal Housing Administration receipts that are used as offsets within the legislation.
"As a result, this bill by necessity strikes a fine balance between fiscal restraint and targeted investment in programs that will boost our economy, improve our quality of life, and provide housing options to those Americans most in need."
"One of our chief priorities in this bill is providing key infrastructure programs with the funding needed to keep our economy moving.
"We provided $40.26 billion from the Highway Trust Fund for the Federal Highway Program for road investments – the same as the current level, and contingent on the enactment of new transportation authorization legislation. We have also included funding to help communities build, maintain, and keep safe their mass transit systems.
"Smooth, efficient, and safe air travel is another priority in this bill. We ensured that we have provided full funding for air traffic control personnel, including controllers and safety inspectors. We are investing in the future of air travel as well – helping to ease future congestion and reduce delays by fully funding NextGen.
"And, to protect every American who uses or lives near our roads, airways, pipelines and waterways – we increased funding for important transportation safety programs.
"Within the Department of Housing and Urban Development, we ensured that all those who are currently served by critical housing programs continue to keep a roof over their heads. To do so, we increased funding for Public and Indian Housing by $6.2 million. We also fully funded the President’s request for veterans’ housing vouchers.
"Lastly, Community Development Block Grants have been held consistent with last year’s funding level.
"As I said before, to balance out the important increases in this bill and to factor in the reductions in FHA receipts, cuts to lower-priority programs were necessary. For instance, we reduced Amtrak by $193 million below last year, and placed strict policy reforms on how tax dollars are spent on this service. We also reduced TIGER grants by $500 million below last year’s level, and mandated that these funds address our most critical transportation needs – road, highway, and bridge construction and improvement. None of these funds will go toward non-essential purposes, like street-scaping.
"Overall, this bill is a good bill that addresses our most immediate infrastructure needs and provides our most vulnerable citizens with housing.
"Before I close, I would like to say a few words about the co-authors of this bill – Chairman Latham and the Ranking Member, Mr. Pastor. As you know, this will be their last THUD bill before they leave us at the end of the year. These two men have been great assets to the Appropriations Committee – for their expertise, their willingness to work together, and their great attitudes – and we will miss them greatly.
"Their swan song – this bill – before you today is a fine achievement – a capstone on two accomplished careers. I thank them both for their hard work on this bill, and for their contributions to the Appropriations Committee, the House, and this nation.
"I ask that my colleagues support this bill today. Thank you, and I yield back."