April 28, 2015
The House Appropriations Committee today released the fiscal year 2016 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development funding bill, which will be considered in subcommittee tomorrow. The legislation includes funding for the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and other related agencies.
In total, the bill reflects an allocation of $55.3 billion in discretionary spending – an increase of $1.5 billion above fiscal year 2015 and $9.7 billion below the President’s budget request. However, given reduced offsets – primarily caused by a $1.1 billion decline in Federal Housing Administration receipts – the bill actually represents an increase of only $25 million above the current level. Within the legislation, funds are targeted toward transportation, infrastructure, and housing programs of national need and significance that have the biggest impact on Americans and communities across the country.
“This bill invests in critical infrastructure programs that will keep our people and our businesses moving, and that will make our roads, rails, and airways safe for all. And to provide needed shelter to those most vulnerable – including low-income families and seniors– the bill provides responsible levels of funding for core housing programs,” House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers said. “These are tight-budget times, and this legislation makes the most out of each and every transportation and housing dollar.”
Subcommittee Chairman Mario Diaz-Balart said, “This bill supports our nation's most critical infrastructure and housing needs by focusing on core operations and cutting wasteful programs. Though difficult decisions had to be made, I am confident our priorities will ensure the stability of these vital areas. I look forward to continue working with my colleagues to move this bill through the legislative process.
The bill prioritizes funding for critical transportation projects and programs to encourage economic growth and efficiency, and on core housing programs for the nation’s most vulnerable citizens. Given tight budget constraints, the bill closely targets funds in these critical programs, while making responsible choices to reduce spending in lower-priority areas.
Transportation – The bill includes $17.2 billion in discretionary appropriations for the Department of Transportation for fiscal year 2016. This is $1 billion below the fiscal year 2015 enacted level and $6.8 billion below the President’s request. Within this amount, funding is prioritized on programs and projects with national need or significance, and that will help make the nation’s transportation systems more efficient.
- Highways – The bill provides over $40.25 billion from the Highway Trust Fund to be spent on the Federal-aid Highways Program. This is equal to the fiscal year 2015 level. This funding is contingent on the enactment of new transportation authorization legislation, as the current authorization expires this year.
- Air – Included in the legislation is $15.9 billion in total budgetary resources for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) – $159 million above the fiscal year 2015 enacted level and $40 million above the request. This will provide full funding for all air traffic control personnel, including 14,500 air traffic controllers, 7,400 safety inspectors, and operational support personnel.
The bill also funds FAA’s Next Generation Air Transportation Systems (NextGen) at $931 million, and funds Contract Towers at $154 million. These investments will help ease future congestion and help reduce delays for travelers in U.S. airspace. In addition, the bill rejects the Administration’s proposals for new passenger facility and general aviation fees.
- Rail – The Federal Railroad Administration is funded at $1.4 billion, a reduction of $262 million below the fiscal year 2015 enacted level. This includes $289 million for Amtrak operations – continuing service for all current routes – and $850 million for capital grants. The bill also continues reforms to ensure the best use of tax dollars, such as requiring overtime limits for Amtrak employees to reduce unnecessary costs, and prohibiting federal funding for routes where Amtrak offers a discount of 50% or more off normal, peak fares. No funding is provided for High-Speed Rail.
In addition, rail safety and research programs are funded at $226 million, equal to the fiscal year 2015 enacted level. This will fund inspectors and training to help ensure the safety of passengers and local communities. The bill also allows $6.5 million in funding for a highway rail-grade crossing safety initiative.
- Transit – The bill provides $10.7 billion for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) – $161 million below the fiscal year 2015 enacted level. Transit formula grants total $8.6 billion, which is consistent with the MAP-21 authorization legislation, to help local communities build, maintain, and ensure the safety of their mass transit systems. This funding is contingent on the enactment of new transportation authorization legislation, as the current authorization expires this year.
Within this amount, the legislation provides a total of $1.9 billion for Capital Investment Grants (“New Starts”), full funding for all current “Full Funding Grant Agreement” (FFGA) transit projects, and an additional $250 million for projects that will enter a FFGA by the end of fiscal year 2016. Also included is $40 million for core capacity projects, and full funding for all state and local “Small Starts” projects that will begin in fiscal year 2016. These programs provide competitive grant funding for major transit capital investments – including rapid rail, light rail, bus rapid transit, and commuter rail – that are planned and operated by local communities.
- Maritime – The legislation includes $361 million for the Maritime Administration, $19.8 million above the fiscal year 2015 enacted level, to increase the productivity, efficiency and safety of the nation’s ports and intermodal water and land transportation. The Maritime Security Program is funded at the full authorized level of $186 million.
- Safety – The legislation contains funding for the various transportation safety programs and agencies within the Department of Transportation. This includes $837 million in total budgetary resources for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) – an increase of $6.5 million over the fiscal year 2015 enacted level – and $572 million for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Also included is $227 million for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, an increase of $6.9 million over the fiscal year 2015 enacted level, to help address safety concerns including the transport of energy products.
- Grants – The legislation funds National Infrastructure Investment grants (also known as TIGER grants) at $100 million, $400 million below the fiscal year 2015 enacted level and $1.15 billion below the request.
Housing and Urban Development (HUD) – The legislation includes a total of $42 billion for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, an increase of $1 billion above the fiscal year 2015 enacted level and $3 billion below the request.
- Section 8 and Public Housing – Included in the bill is $26.8 billion for Public and Indian Housing. This is an increase of $353 million above the fiscal year 2015 enacted level and $2 billion below the requested level. This funding will continue assistance to all families and individuals currently served by this program.
Other housing programs within the bill are funded at $11.3 billion – an increase of $947 million above the fiscal year 2015 enacted level. The bulk of this increase is needed to provide a full year of funding on all project-based rental assistance contracts and continue assistance to all those currently served by these programs. In addition, the bill provides a program level of $461 million for Housing for the Elderly, $41 million above the fiscal year 2015 enacted level, and $152 million for Housing for Persons with Disabilities, an increase of $17 million above the fiscal year 2015 enacted level.
Community Planning and Development – The bill contains $6.4 billion for Community Planning and Development programs – $85.6 million below the fiscal year 2015 enacted level. The Community Development Block Grant formula program is funded at $3 billion – the same as last year’s level. The HOME Investment Partnerships Program is also funded at the fiscal year 2015 level of $900 million. Homeless Assistance Grants are funded at $2.2 billion, an increase of $50 million over the fiscal year 2015 enacted level – which will enable the renewal of all projects meeting performance standards.
For the subcommittee draft text of the legislation, please visit: /UploadedFiles/BILLS-114HR-SC-AP-FY2016-TransHUD-SubcommitteeDraft.pdf