The U.S. Senate’s transportation appropriations subcommittee June 23 approved its version of a funding bill for fiscal year 2016. Among the various transportation categories, the bill sets investment for highways ($40.26 billion) and intermodal grants ($500 million, through the TIGER program) at the same levels as the current fiscal year 2015. Total public transit investment would be cut by $424 million to $10.5 billion. The subcommittee stated that its proposed highway and transit investment levels are contingent on passage of a new surface transportation reauthorization, which would need to address the looming shortfall of the Highway Trust Fund. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says current trust fund revenues will be unable to support any new highway or transit investment beyond September 30. The latest CBO report shows the trust fund will require $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.
The full Senate Appropriations Committee will consider the measure on Thursday, June 25. As ARTBA previously reported, the U.S. House of Representatives passed its own version of this bill on June 9. Accordingly, passage of a companion version by the Senate Appropriations Committee and full Senate will enable a House-Senate conference committee to address differences between the two bills and work to negotiate a final version.