By David Bauer, senior vice president of government relations, ARTBA
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) announced Nov. 17 that House Republicans are planning to put forward a “continuing resolution” that would hold all FY 2017 federal discretionary spending—including the transportation programs—at the current level until March 31, 2017.
Prior to the beginning of FY 2017 on Oct. 1, Congress put in place temporary measure that would hold federal spending flat until Dec. 8, with the expectation that final decisions on FY 2017 investment levels would be made after the November elections. Ryan’s plan reflects the attitude of many Republicans that they would rather negotiate the final FY 2017 funding levels with the incoming Trump administration than with President Obama.
Under this approach, the $900 million increase in highway investment called for by the FAST Act and included in the House and Senate FY 2017 transportation funding bills would be delayed at least until spring. Similarly, the $510 million to $670 million public transportation funding increases in the House and Senate transportation measures would also be delayed. Meanwhile, the existing funding levels for these and other programs would continue.
Congress followed a similar path in 2012 by delaying FY 2013 spending decisions until spring 2013. While the investment increases called for under the 2012 MAP-21 surface transportation law were ultimately delivered in the second half of FY 2013, some House Republicans fought to hold spending at the FY 2012 level for the full year. As such, if Congress chooses to delay the FY 2017 funding decisions until next year, working to ensure the FAST Act’s full highway and public transportation investment increases are delivered will be an early ARTBA priority next year.