Share
July 23, 2020 2:00 PM, EDT

Transportation Funding Bill Set for US House Floor Consideration

Representatives Nita Lowey and Mario Diaz-BalartNita Lowey (left) and Mario Diaz-Balart by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News

[Stay on top of transportation news: Get TTNews in your inbox.]

Legislation that would fund operations at the U.S. Department of Transportation and its agencies will be considered on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives before the end of July.

The chamber’s Democratic leadership announced the fiscal 2021 transportation appropriations measure, which includes funding priorities for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, is up next on the floor of the chamber as part of a multibill package.

“The Appropriations Committee is charged with one of the most important responsibilities entrusted to Congress by the constitution: the power of the purse,” Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said recently. “I am proud that we have used that power to make investments that will make the world better, safer, and healthier and give every person a better chance at a better life.”

RoadSigns

5G wireless networks promise greater bandwidth, faster speeds and improved reliability. But how long will the industry have to wait until this technology is ready for fleet operations? Host Seth Clevenger talks with Chris Wolfe of PowerFleet and John Binder of Trimble Transportation. Hear a snippet, above, and get the full program by going to RoadSigns.TTNews.com.  

In addition to the transportation bill, the package includes measures pertaining to the departments of Defense, Commerce, Justice, Homeland Security, Labor, Health and Human Services, Energy, Education, Housing and Urban Development, and other agencies.

Earlier this month, the Appropriations Committee approved a transportation bill that would provide FMCSA $881 million for its operations. The proposed funding allocation would be a $202 million increase from the fiscal 2020-enacted level, and $179 million more than the president’s request.

Overall, the House bill would provide $107.2 billion for USDOT, an increase of $21.1 billion from the fiscal 2020-enacted level and $19.4 billion more than the president’s request. Under the bill, the Federal Highway Administration would receive $62.9 billion; the Federal Transit Administration would receive $18.9 billion; and the Federal Aviation Administration would receive $18.1 billion. The measure also would provide $1 billion for infrastructure grants, matching the president’s request.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, states and municipalities would receive $75 billion in supplemental aid for transportation and housing programs. Senior Republicans in the House criticized the bill.

House Appropriations Bill by Transport Topics on Scribd

“Those of us who have worked on this bill over the years understand that this is a vital piece of legislation which boosts our nation’s infrastructure and helps house millions of Americans. While I strongly support many components of the base bill, I cannot support the unnecessary policy provisions, exorbitant supplemental spending that nearly doubles the size of the bill with no bipartisan input, and budget gimmicks encompassed in this legislation,” Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee ranking member Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) said earlier this month.

While the Democrat-led House took up its bills to ensure funding for the federal government, the Republican-led Senate Appropriations Committee has yet to schedule consideration of its bills.

Patrick Leahy

Leahy

The next fiscal year begins Oct. 1. To avert a shutdown of certain agencies, Congress would have to send to the president’s desk for enactment either fiscal 2021 funding legislation or temporary funding bills.

A summer and fall schedule that includes coronavirus emergency aid, law enforcement reform, military affairs legislation, foreign policy matters, election security, reauthorization of a highway policy bill, and nominations has shrunk the legislative window to consider fiscal 2021 funding bills during the presidential political season.

A few Democrats in the Senate maintain an expectation bills will be debated before the elections. Appropriations Committee ranking member Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has indicated, “Senate Democrats are committed to producing bipartisan bills. There is bipartisan agreement that we need to address the COVID[-19] pandemic.”

Want more news? Listen to today's daily briefing: