By Dean Franks, senior vice president, congressional relations, ARTBA
The U.S. House of Representatives June 26 passed a package of five fiscal 2020 appropriations bills on a 227-194 vote. The $383 billion package includes full-funding for highway, transit, and airport programs at authorized spending levels. The legislation also includes additional funding for these programs from the General Fund, like the final FY 2018 and FY 2019 spending bills, though additional funding for highway programs is less than this 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 full details on how the House proposes allocating the additional resources and how this bill compares to previous years.
While the additional infrastructure investment laid out in the House-passed legislation 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 deal 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 have moved forward with their own spending levels and will adjust accordingly in an eventual conference with the Senate. Not including the BUILD Grant program, if the final FY 2020 bill were identical to the House bill, it would amount to a three-year total increase of $12.5 billion in additional highway, transit, and airport spending beyond what was promised in the surface and aviation authorization laws.
The Senate has not begun deliberation of any of its FY 2020 spending bills though it has signaled action could begin as soon as Congress returns from the Independence Day holiday the week of July 8. 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 modes.