By Lauren Schapker, vice president of legislative affairs, ARTBA

A House subcommittee July 8 agreed to match FY 2021 surface transportation spending levels to the increased funding approved by the full chamber earlier this month in the $1.5 trillion Moving Forward Act infrastructure package. While this is an important first step in the annual federal appropriations process, a surface transportation reauthorization bill is still pending in the Senate and that legislation, or a program extension will need to be signed into law before any additional resources materialize.

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing & Urban Development passed legislation would provide $107 billion in resources for U.S. Department of Transportation programs for FY 2021, shown below with the percentage increase over FY 2020:

  • $61.9 billion for core highway programs — 33.5 percent; 
  • $4 billion for BUILD program discretionary multi-modal grants — 300 percent; 
  • $15.9 billion for transit formula program — 56.7 percent;
  • $7.2 billion for transit Capital Investment Grants — 263.6 percent; 
  • $5.5 billion for CRISI rail improvement Grants — 1,592 percent; and 
  • $5.85 billion for Airport Improvement Program and Grants-in-aid — 56 percent. 

The increased investment levels reflect a combination of core annual appropriations and one-time, General Fund “emergency spending” proposed to help transportation sectors recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The subcommittee’s recognition of the increased investment levels is important as it reinforces the House position to grow federal transportation spending as it negotiates with the Senate on both FY 2021 spending and a long-term reauthorization bill. 

ARTBA is aggressively advocating for passage of increased investment before the FAST Act and current appropriations laws expire Sept. 30.