By David Bauer, senior vice president of government relations, ARTBA

The U.S. House of Representative started work this week on legislation that would largely maintain federal highway and transit investment during the next fiscal year, which begins October 1.  The transportation appropriations measure, however, does not address the looming Highway Trust Fund shortfall and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says current trust fund revenues will be unable to support any new highway or transit investment beyond September 30.  A new CBO report shows the trust fund requires $8 billion in additional revenue just to get through December 31.

Appropriations bills are required annually to fund all federal agencies—including those within the U.S. Department of Transportation—and are a counterpart to bills that reauthorize the highway and public transportation programs.

A summary of the House-proposed FY 2016 transportation appropriations bill is below:

FY 2016

Change from FY 2015

Highways

$40.3 billion

Same

Transit formula programs

$8.6 billion

Same

Transit capital grants

$1.9 billion

Minus $200 million

Airport Improvement Program

$3.35 billion

Same

Intermodal Grants (Tiger Grants)

$100 million

Minus $400 million

The Obama Administration has threatened to veto the House proposal due the fact that “[t]he bill freezes or cuts critical investment in transportation that creates jobs, helps to grow the economy, and improves America’s roads, bridges, transit infrastructure and aviation systems…”  The Administration is also objecting to a provision in the bill that would preclude the Surface Transportation Board from approving new segments of the California High Speed Rail project.  ARTBA has joined a number of other national associations to urge members of the Senate Appropriations Committee to refrain from including a similar provision in their version of the transportation measure.

The House is scheduled to resume work on the transportation funding measure next week.