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July 19, 2021 11:30 AM, EDT

US House Panel Approves USDOT Budget Increase

Pete Buttigieg Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg's agency will receive an additional $8.7 billion, or more than an 11% increase from fiscal 2021 approved levels. (Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg News)

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Legislation that would boost funding for federal transportation operations in fiscal 2022 was approved by a U.S. House panel along party lines, setting up a vote in the chamber prior to the congressional August recess.

On July 16, the House Appropriations Committee, with jurisdiction over funding matters, approved a transportation funding bill that would dedicate $84.1 billion in discretionary spending for the U.S. Department of Transportation and related infrastructure programs. The committee approved the legislation by a 33-24 vote.

The draft measure would dedicate an additional $8.7 billion, or more than an 11% increase from fiscal 2021 approved levels. Specific to DOT, that would mean an increase of $1.9 billion. House Democratic leaders indicated the legislation would be among other funding bills scheduled for floor consideration during the week of July 26.

Rep. David Price

Price

Senate funding leaders have yet to advance their fiscal 2022 funding legislation. Congress is tasked with approving appropriations bills prior to the start of the new fiscal year Oct. 1 to avert certain federal funding disruptions.

“Updating our nation’s aging infrastructure, including our housing stock, is central to our economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said David Price (D-N.C.), Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies appropriations subcommittee chairman. “The bill nearly doubles passenger and freight rail investment, solidifying our commitment to more sustainable travel while focusing on climate resilience and mitigation.”

DeLauro

“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,” Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) added.

The bill proposed allocating the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration $379.5 million for its operations budget, and $506.2 million for safety grants. While the bill was under consideration in committee, lawmakers adopted a provision designed to exempt commercial drivers who transport livestock, insects and certain agricultural products from electronic logging devices requirements.

THUD Spending Bill by Transport Topics on Scribd

For other agencies, the bill proposes funding the Federal Highway Administration at $61.9 billion for programs linked to the Highway Trust Fund account. Proponents of the bill argued that agency’s funding is meant to enhance safety and long-term viability of surface transportation systems.

The bill also would provide $18.9 billion for the Federal Aviation Administration, an $896 million increase above the fiscal 2021 level. The Federal Railroad Administration would receive $4.1 billion, an increase of $1.3 billion above 2021, and the Federal Transit Administration would receive $15.5 billion, an increase of $459 million above fiscal 2021 levels. Amtrak would receive $2.7 billion, $700 million more than the fiscal 2021 level.

For a DOT program designed to award grants for infrastructure projects, titled Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity, or RAISE, House funding leaders proposed $1.2 billion for fiscal 2022. RAISE grants formerly were known as BUILD and TIGER grants. On matters pertaining to climate change, the fiscal 2022 transportation legislation would dedicate about $250 million for emission-reduction programs, such as zero-emission buses.

For the most part, senior Republicans took issue with the Democrats’ proposed funding levels for transportation programs, and other federal operations. GOP lawmakers plan to take their opposition to the floor of the chamber during the measures’ consideration.

Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), the Appropriations Committee ranking member said, “Republicans will continue to advocate against controversial policies and proposed spending levels that short-change our national defense and irresponsibly provide huge increases to domestic spending.”

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