Fiscal 2021 Funding Bill Negotiations Continue on Capitol Hill

Richard Shelby
"We have before us the opportunity to deliver for the American people once again,” says Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations. (Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg News)

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With the memory of the most recent presidential election still fresh in some lawmakers’ minds, congressional funding leaders continue to debate the dozen bills vital for keeping the government operational.

The clock is ticking for the leadership of the Appropriations Committee tasked with maneuvering the fiscal 2021 measures through the chambers prior to a Dec. 11 deadline. Absent the enactment of fiscal 2021 bills or a short-term appropriations bill, funding for most of the federal apparatus expires after that date. A measure that would dedicate funding for the U.S. Department of Transportation and its agencies is part of the appropriations process.

To advance the legislative ball further down the field in the lame duck, a Senate panel recently unveiled its fiscal 2021 appropriations bills. On transportation, the Senate measure would provide $48.7 billion for the Federal Highway Administration, $18 billion for the Federal Aviation Administration and $13 billion for the Federal Transit Administration. It also would dedicate $1 billion for an infrastructure grants program.



On Nov. 10, funding committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) observed: “As negotiations with the House begin in earnest, I look forward to working with Chairwoman [Nita] Lowey, Vice Chairman [Patrick] Leahy and ranking member [Kay] Granger to resolve our differences in a bipartisan manner. Time after time, we have demonstrated our willingness to work together and get the job done. We have before us the opportunity to deliver for the American people once again.”

The House already advanced its versions.

Advancing the fiscal 2021 transportation appropriations package would set freight and infrastructure funding directives across agencies. Legislative gridlock would do little to advance the legislative ball.

Congress really does need to find some way to get government funded through Sept. 30 of next year.

AASHTO Executive Director Jim Tymon

Stakeholders insist appropriations measures are priorities on Capitol Hill.

“The most important thing I think that Congress is working on here over the next three or four weeks is going to be getting something done for the fiscal 2021 appropriations bills,” Jim Tymon, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials told his group recently. “Congress really does need to find some way to get government funded through Sept. 30 of next year.”

Appropriations Bills by Transport Topics on Scribd

The Week Ahead

Nov. 17, 2:30 p.m.: The Senate Manufacturing, Trade, and Consumer Protection Subcommittee meets for a hearing titled, “Examining the American Manufacturing Industry’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

Nov. 18, 10 a.m.: The Senate Commerce Committee meets for an executive legislative session.

Nov. 18, 10 a.m.: The House Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee examines freight rail industry concerns.

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The Last Word

The federal government should do everything in its power to invest in tribal communities like the Seneca Nation and make sure they have the proper tools necessary to improve their quality of life.

— Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Nov. 12.


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