June 3, 2015
House Committee on Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers today gave the following statement on the House floor in support of H.R. 2577, the Fiscal Year 2016 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill:
"Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 2577, the Fiscal Year 2016 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations Bill.
"I am proud that we have this piece of legislation, our fifth appropriations bill of the year, on the floor today. It is the next step in our ongoing effort to fully fund the government before the end of the fiscal year – as is our congressional duty.
"H.R. 2577 funds a wide range of federal programs that affect every citizen of every district of every state. From the transportation infrastructure that moves goods, people, and businesses around the country, to the housing options that help those in most need, the benefits of the programs in this bill are felt far and wide.
"In total, this bill provides $55.3 billion in discretionary spending for the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and other related agencies. Due to reduced offsets, including lower FHA receipts, the bill represents a $25 million increase above the current year.
"This is a tight budget, yet the bill targets funds to provide adequate investments in critical infrastructure and much-relied-upon housing programs.
"Of the total, $17.2 billion goes toward discretionary funding for DOT – prioritizing projects that have great benefits to our nation as a whole, and that will help make this nation’s transportation systems safer and more efficient. This includes $15.9 billion for the Federal Aviation Administration. A portion of its funding will go to the NextGen program, to improve efficiency in our airways and reduce congestion and delays.
"The federal highway program is provided with $40.2 billion from the Highway Trust Fund – an amount equal to last year, but that is subject to continued authorization. This funding will ensure our roadways, bridges, and tunnels can safely and smoothly facilitate the flow of American commerce.
"The Federal Railroad Administration is funded at $1.4 billion. This includes $289 million for Amtrak operations – the same as last year – and $850 million for capital grants, as well as $187 million in funding for critical FRA safety and research programs. Total FRA funding is reduced by $262 million, but rail safety -- which is so important -- is held harmless from these reductions.
"In fact, safety was a priority throughout this bill – and that is evident in the funding levels. For instance, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration receives $6.5 million more than last year; and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration receives a $6.9 million bump to help address safety concerns regarding the transport of energy products.
"Beyond these important infrastructure investments, the bill also includes a total of $42 billion for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This level will guarantee that all individuals and families currently receiving housing assistance will continue to be served by the program; and it ensures that the 77,000 VASH vouchers, which support our veterans, remain in circulation. Important housing programs for some of our most vulnerable citizens – the elderly and persons with disabilities – also receive targeted increases.
"To help bolster economic growth in local communities, the bill provides $6.4 billion in grant funding for economic development. Investing in our communities through programs like Community Development Block Grants will allow funds to be targeted to local areas to meet their unique needs.
"As with all appropriations bills, particularly in these tight-budget times, we had to take a close look at what was mission-critical and what was lower on the priority list. Some tough choices had to be made, and some programs had to be reduced. But overall, I believe this bill puts everything in its proper place and does the very best within its allotted resources.
"I want to thank the Chairman of the THUD Subcommittee, Congressman Diaz-Balart, for his hard work on this bill. This was his maiden voyage as a subcommittee cardinal, and I am proud to say “job well done.” I also want to thank Congressman Price, and all of the Subcommittee members for their commitment to this bill and the committee. And lastly, I want to thank the staff for their guidance and their knowledge as they helped us bring this bill before the House in an efficient manner.
"I am proud to support this bill today, and I ask that my colleagues do the same. Thank you, and I yield back."