With a looming Highway Trust Fund revenue shortfall and the authorization of the federal highway and public transportation programs expiring in a matter of months, the House Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee today approved an FY 2015 spending bill that would continue current investment levels in these programs. The bill and its authors, however, made clear these funding levels are contingent on a Highway Trust Fund solution and a reauthorization or extension of the highway and transit programs. According to subcommittee Chairman Tom Latham (R-Iowa), the full House Appropriations Committee is tentatively scheduled to act on the measure the week of May 19.
Specifics of the House FY 2015 transportation spending bill include:
- $40.3 billion for the core highway program (same as FY 2014);
- $8.6 billion for public transportation formula grants (same as FY 2014);
- $3.35 billion for Airport Improvement Program (same a FY 2014);
- $1.7 billion for the transit capital New Starts Program ($250 million less than FY 2014);
- $850 million for the Amtrak capital program ($200 million less than FY 2014); and
- $100 million for the multimodal “TIGER” grant program ($500 million less than FY 2014).
The conditional nature of the core highway and public transportation program investments contained in the House proposal warrants a brief explanation. Without a new authorization of the surface transportation programs—or an extension of current law—by September 30, the appropriations committees cannot provide new funding authority. As such, the proposal approved today allows the FY 2015 appropriations process to keep moving forward and will serve as a placeholder for expected congressional action in the next few months.
In a related development, Senate Environment & Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) today said her committee’s multi-year surface transportation reauthorization proposal will be released May 8.