House Panel Approves $52B Transportation, Housing Funding Bill

The full House will take up a $52 billion spending bill that would fund transportation and housing programs in fiscal 2015 as early as this month.

Appropriators backed the legislation May 21 by a vote of 28-21 during a committee hearing.

Despite Democrats’ efforts to increase the legislation’s proposed funding to pay for infrastructure programs, the bill, as amended, would provide significantly less funding for a popular grant program the Obama administration uses to help fund large-scale programs. 

The bill also would provide $100 million for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Act (TIGER) grant program — $500 million below the fiscal 2014 enacted level and $1.15 billion below the administration’s fiscal 2015 request.

In a 28-22 party-line vote, the Republican-led panel defeated an amendment to the bill offered by Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) that would have provided an additional $500 million for the TIGER program. Democrats suggested they would look to restore funding for the program when the bill reaches the floor.

Overall, the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill would provide $40.25 billion in formula highway spending for the trust fund, matching the 2014 level.

The bill is about $1.17 billion above the fiscal 2014 enacted level and nearly $8 billion below the Obama administration’s fiscal 2015 budget request.

The bill also would revise truck weight limits in three states and direct transportation policy writers in the House to approve a plan to boost a federal Highway Trust Fund account that is on the verge of insolvency. The trust fund backs state transportation programs.

Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee Chairman Tom Latham (R-Iowa) said the bill offers a “good balance between housing and transportation, and the various provisions members asked us to consider.”

The bill could see floor consideration before the Memorial Day holiday. Senate appropriators have yet to take up their version in committee.

Additional coverage will be featured in the May 26 issue of Transport Topics