By Dean Franks, senior vice president, congressional relations, ARTBA
The House and Senate are moving forward with important spending legislation to avoid a government shutdown.
The House, by a 301-123 vote, Sept. 19 passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) – a temporary spending bill that would extend FY 2019 funding levels for all appropriations bills until Nov. 21. The stopgap spending measure now moves to the Senate, which is expected to pass it for President Donald Trump’s signature before the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year.
This process was expected. In early August, after enacting a two-year budget deal that set a path for future bipartisan agreements on most spending decisions, congressional leaders in both parties acknowledged that a funding patch like the CR passed this week would still be necessary.
On the other side of the capitol, the Senate Appropriations Committee Sept. 19 passed its version of an FY 2020 transportation spending bill, including full-funding for Highway Trust Fund (HTF)-supported programs at FAST Act-authorized levels.
Guided by the August budget agreement, Senate appropriators continued the recent precedent of adding supplementary highway, transit, and airport funding beyond authorized levels. The chart below shows the last two years of federal spending on these programs and compares the details of the Senate bill to the June 25 House-passed legislation.
The Senate may consider their version of the bill as soon as the week of Sept. 23. Once the Senate passes its legislation, lawmakers from both parties and both chambers will meet to work through the few differences that exist between the bills. Final passage of the FY 2020 legislation and the president’s signature are expected before the CR expires Nov. 21.
ARTBA will continue working to ensure the final bill contains as much additional investment as possible in highway, public transportation and airport construction programs.