By David Bauer, senior vice president of government relations, ARTBA
House Republicans unveiled a government-wide spending proposal late Dec. 6 that would delay roughly $1.5 billion in highway and public transportation investment increases until at least seven months into FY 2017. The proposal would hold virtually all federal programs at the FY 2016 level through the end of April 2017. All federal discretionary programs have been operating under a temporary “continuing resolution” since FY 2017 began Oct. 1. That measure expires Dec. 9.
GOP congressional leaders announced shortly after the November elections that they would not finalize FY 2017 spending in December as originally planned due to their preference to negotiate a final package in 2017 with President Trump.
Under the Dec. 6 GOP proposal, the highway and public transportation funding increases authorized by the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act will be delayed until well into the 2017 construction season despite the fact the Highway Trust Fund currently has the resources to support those investments. The House and Senate Appropriations Committees have produced funding measures for the U.S. Department of Transportation that would increase highway investment by $900 million to a record $43.3 billion in FY 2017—as called for in the FAST Act. The Senate measure would boost transit spending by $510 million to over $12 billion (also consistent with the FAST Act), while the House plan would provide $12.2 billion for the public transportation programs.
The ARTBA co-chaired Transportation Construction Coalition earlier this year called on Congress to approve a final FY 2017 transportation funding measure in calendar year 2016 that at least followed through on the investment commitments Congress made last December when it overwhelmingly approved the FAST Act.
The House is expected to consider the spending plan Dec. 8, with Senate action to follow Dec. 9. ARTBA will continue to urge Congress to live up to its surface transportation investment pledges as soon as possible to minimize unnecessary disruption of the 2017 construction season.