By John Schneidawind, vice president of public affairs, ARTBA
The Senate the week of Oct. 21 began debating the Fiscal Year 2020 Transportation Appropriations bill that, if enacted, would provide over $65 billion for highway, transit, and airport capital spending. The legislation would fully fund highway programs at FAST Act authorized levels, though fall short on transit spending.
In addition to the spending authorized as part of surface transportation and aviation bills, legislators include $4.7 billion in additional funding for highway, transit and airport programs, due to a bipartisan budget agreement earlier in the year. Here’s the complete spending breakdown on these programs:
The Senate is expected to conclude debate and pass the legislation the week of Oct. 28. The House and Senate bills would then enter a process known as a “conference”, where the two chambers negotiate the differences and agree on final legislative text for each to vote on again before heading to the president for his signature.
All federal government programs subject to the annual appropriations process are currently running at FY 2019 levels via a temporary extension of spending authority through Nov. 21. While the differences in the House and Senate transportation spending bills are relatively minor, macro issues related to overall funding levels and controversial policies in other spending bills may prevent the sides from reaching an agreement on the transportation bill before another extension is needed.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said it would be “optimistic” to expect any of the annual spending bills to become law before the current stopgap expires Nov. 21 and another temporary spending extension may delay the final measure into early spring.