May 4, 2017 2:50 PM, EDT

TIGER Grants Live On in Fiscal 2017 Funding Bill Backed by Congress


Legislation that would ensure funding for the federal government through the end of September advanced with funding for the Obama-era grants for infrastructure projects.

In a 79-18 vote, the Senate on May 4 cleared for President Donald Trump a $1 trillion omnibus funding bill that would provide $500 million for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants. Earlier in the week, the House passed the funding bill by a vote of 309-118.

Trump, who is expected to sign the bill prior to May 5 to avoid a government shutdown, proposed to eliminate funding in fiscal 2018 for TIGER grants, which state and local governments have used to finance big-ticket infrastructure projects since 2009.

On the Senate floor May 1, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) praised the funding continuation: “It includes significant increased funding for infrastructure … the vital TIGER grant program that has done so much for infrastructure, road building, and highways throughout my state and throughout America.”

The bill also would fund positive train control implementation grants, oversight of automated vehicle technology, and it would keep alive the California high-speed rail project. The measure does not fund a project that would erect a permanent wall along the Mexican border, a pledge Trump repeated during the presidential campaign.

Trump promised to rebuild infrastructure at airports, highways, and bridges. His $1 trillion, 10-year proposal for infrastructure investments is expected to be unveiled in a few weeks, while a formal fiscal 2018 budget request could be announced around that time. The White House has been pushing public and private sector concepts for funding the transportation system. Republicans’ call for funding reductions for TIGER, Amtrak and transit programs are likely to re-emerge in upcoming budget negotiations.