By Dean Franks, senior vice president, congressional relations, ARTBA
The House Transportation, Housing & Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee May 22 released its draft Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 spending bill, including full-funding for highway, transit, and airport programs at authorized spending levels. The bill also includes additional funding for these programs from the General Fund, similar to the final FY 2018 and FY 2019 spending bills, though additional funding for highway programs is significantly less than last year. BUILD Grants, a discretionary program formally known as TIGER, would receive $1 billion in the House bill, $100 million above FY 2019.
See the chart below for details on how the House Democrats propose allocating the additional resources and how this proposal compares to previous years.
While the additional spending beyond what has been authorized for these programs is welcome, it is unclear if there will be agreement between Democrats and Republicans on the increased funding levels. The additional funding for FY 2018 and FY 2019 was made possible through a budget agreement between both parties to increase domestic and defense spending significantly above FY 2017, including $20 billion in supplementary funding for infrastructure. That arrangement was only good for two years. Members of Congress and Trump administration officials are currently negotiating a new pact.
Until then, House Democrats are moving forward with their own spending levels and will adjust accordingly if an agreement can be reached. Not including the BUILD Grant program, if the final FY 2020 bill were identical to the House draft released May 22, it would amount to a three-year total increase of $12.5 billion in additional highway, transit, and airport spending beyond the regular authorization process.
The Subcommittee will consider the legislation May 23. The Senate has not begun deliberation of any of its FY 2020 spending bills and has not released a time table of when it plans to move forward. ARTBA will continue updating members on the FY 2020 appropriations discussion and look for ways to bring the supplemental spending up to, at least, FY 2019 funding levels for all transportation programs.