By Dean Franks, senior vice president, congressional relations, ARTBA

Congress has approved a spending package to fund the government for the rest of FY 2020. It now goes to President Donald Trump to sign into law before a temporary measure expires at midnight Dec. 20.

The package fully funds the FAST Act’s $1.29 billion increase in highway and core transit program investment. It also provides $3.35 billion for the Airport Improvement Program, but falls $300 million short of the amount expected for the transit Capital Investment Grant program.

As was the case in FY 2018 and FY 2019, the FY 2020 agreement will boost transportation funding beyond the authorized amounts listed above. The $4.08 billion in total supplemental investment includes:

  • $2.17 billion for highways;
  • $400 million for airport capital projects;
  • $510 million for bus and transit program grants; and
  • $1 billion for BUILD (formerly known as TIGER) multi-modal discretionary grants.

States will have up to four years to spend most of this supplemental funding. The three-year total in additional highway, public transportation, airport and multi-modal capital investments is $15.34 billion. For a full breakdown of the supplemental spending included in the package and how it compares to previous years, see the chart below.

In addition to numerous direct lobbying visits on these issues, the ARTBA co-chaired Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) Dec. 3 advocated for full FAST-Act authorized investment and maximum supplemental funding in a letter to congressional leaders.

The House of Representatives voted 297-120 on the final agreement; the Senate approved the measure 71-23. Much of the federal government has been operating under a Continuing Resolution (CR) that has held spending at FY 2019 levels since Oct. 1.

It’s worth noting this is the earliest an annual transportation spending bill will be completed since FY 2015.  Final enactment of this package before Congress leaves town for the holidays will help provide certainty for states for the remainder of the fiscal year.  It also opens the door for Congress to tackle other bipartisan issues next year.

ARTBA and its coalition partners will continue pressing for the House and Senate to move forward with a new surface transportation authorization measure early in 2020 to ensure enactment before the current law expires Sept. 30.