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August 1, 2022 1:51 PM, EDT

US Senate Proposes Fiscal 2023 FMCSA Funds

SchatzSen. Brian Schatz speaks at a past hearing. He has touted some of the provisions of the proposed bill. (Andrew Harnik/AP Photo/Bloomberg News)

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Senate funding leaders are proposing $873.6 million for federal trucking programs as part of a fiscal 2023 transportation bill.

The appropriations proposal introduced in late July would dedicate $367.5 million for the safety operations and programs division at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. For the agency’s safety grants division, senators proposed $506.1 million. The Senate’s funding proposal matched the House-passed levels for FMCSA, as well as President Joe Biden’s request for fiscal 2023.



For other accounts, the Senate bill would dedicate $3 billion for the Federal Aviation Administration’s facilities and equipment program, $1 billion for national infrastructure grants and $234 million for a ports rebuilding initiative.

RoadSigns

There are many reasons for trucking's ongoing labor shortage. We recap discussions from the first half of this year in this "roundabout" episode. Tune in above or by going to RoadSigns.TTNews.com.

The legislation also aims to pave the way for workforce enhancements across the freight and passenger transportation sectors. Workforce proposals in the bill adhere to provisions adopted in the $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

“Workforce challenges have caused disruptions to the revived mobility demands in a post-pandemic environment, and have the potential to impede the ability of the IIJA investments to transform intercity passenger rail into a desperately needed state of good repair,” according to a summary the Senate Appropriations Committee provided. The legislation has yet to be scheduled for committee consideration in the Senate. The House advanced its version in July.

“This is a strong bill that makes much-needed investments to help our nation’s affordable housing crisis,” Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Appropriations Committee chairman, said July 28. “It makes critical new investments to improve our nation’s infrastructure and further implements the promises made in the bipartisan infrastructure bill enacted into law.”

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), emphasizing housing programs included in the legislation, said, “Our bill directly addresses America’s housing crisis by making the largest investment in affordable housing in a decade: funding the construction of more than 11,000 new rental units and creating a ‘Yes In My Backyard’ program to incentivize more affordable housing.”

Schatz, chairman of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee as well as the bill’s sponsor, continued: “It also maintains record levels of investment in [Native American] housing, improves our public transit, airports, and roads, and supports domestic violence survivors under the Violence Against Women Act.” In addition to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the legislation would dedicate funding in fiscal 2023 for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Shelby

Shelby

Senate Republican leaders criticized the bulk of the Democrats’ funding proposals. “Like last year, Senate Democrats have unveiled partisan appropriations bills that spend billions more than even the administration’s wasteful request. These drafts fail to appropriately allocate resources to our national defense, remove important legacy [policy] riders that enjoyed broad, bipartisan support just four months ago, and are filled with poison pills. They have even taken the drastic step of providing hundreds of millions of dollars for taxpayer-financed abortions,” said Senate Appropriations Committee ranking member Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.).

Emphasizing the likelihood of arriving at short-term funding legislation before Sept. 30, instead of adopting fiscal 2023 bills, Shelby added: “If we are going to get full year bills during this Congress, Democrats must commit to a bipartisan framework that abandons poison pills, preserves legacy riders, and demonstrates a serious commitment to our military. Wasteful, off-budget spending that fuels inflation will be a nonstarter.”

Federal funding authority for the current fiscal year for USDOT and other agencies expires Sept. 30. To avert a shutdown of certain federal agencies, congressional approval of appropriations bills before the end of September is required.

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