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October 19, 2021 5:00 PM, EDT

Senate Leaders Propose Fiscal 2022 Funding Increase for USDOT

Sen. Patrick Leahy “These bills make important investments in our nation’s infrastructure, our environment and the middle class, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy says. (Senate Appropriations Committee)

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Legislation that would boost funding for federal transportation programs in fiscal 2022 was unveiled by leaders in the U.S. Senate on Oct. 18.

Under the legislation, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the country’s trucking regulator, would receive $288 million for safety operations and programs. For the agency’s safety grants, the Senate funding committee is proposing $393.8 million.

The draft Senate bill would provide $29.1 billion in discretionary budget authority for the U.S. Department of Transportation, a $3.8 billion increase over the enacted fiscal 2021 level, according to the committee’s summary.

Senate Appropriations Bill for Fiscal 2022 by Transport Topics on Scribd

For infrastructure projects, it would provide $1.09 billion for the multimodal Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grants, formerly known as BUILD and TIGER.

The legislation would provide $3.2 billion for Federal Aviation Administration facilities and equipment, a $185 million increase from fiscal 2021; $240 million for the Port Infrastructure Development program, a $10 million increase from fiscal 2021, and $50 million for local safety planning and improvements.

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Additionally, $552 million would be dedicated for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement, or CRISI, program, a $147 million increase over fiscal 2021; $220 million to improve intercity passenger rail, $20 million more than the fiscal 2021 enacted level.

Specific to trucking policy, the bill would require FMCSA to update inspection regulations for rear underride guards, and it would prohibit funds from being used to enforce electronic logging devices when transporting livestock or insects.

On matters related to climate change, the fiscal 2022 transportation funding legislation would dedicate $300 million for a new grant program aimed at enhancing severe weather infrastructure resilience across mobility and infrastructure networks. Additionally, the bill includes $132 million for a low- and no-emission vehicle program, $18 million for zero-emission transit vehicle research programs, as well as $11 million for a zero-emission vehicle fleet for USDOT.

Sen. Brian Schatz

Schatz

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), chairman of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, touted his panel’s legislation.

“Our bill delivers strong funding for transportation and housing programs that will help improve our transportation systems, address homelessness, and provide safe and affordable housing for millions of Americans who need help,” Schatz said. “It also represents our commitment to building a stronger, more resilient infrastructure system in the face of the climate crisis and worsening natural disasters.”

Speaking of the fiscal 2022 legislative package, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) added: “These bills make important investments in our nation’s infrastructure, our environment, and the middle class, including historic increases to promote affordable housing, educate our nation’s children, combat climate change, and improve healthcare.”

The Appropriations Committee, with jurisdiction over funding measures, has yet to schedule the bill’s consideration. Funding authority for most of the federal apparatus, including certain agencies at USDOT, expires Dec. 3. Absent a short-term funding bill enacted prior to early December, the government will experience a partial shutdown.

Earlier this year, the House passed its transportation funding measure for fiscal 2022. Addressing the bill over the summer, House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said: “For far too long, our nation’s crumbling infrastructure has held America back. With this bill’s major new investments in transportation, including transit and rail, more than 125,000 new housing vouchers, and the modernization of public housing, we have made a long overdue investment in the future of America’s working families.”

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