White House to Seek Infrastructure, Freight Boost in FY23 Budget

White House
The White House at dusk on March 21. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

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WASHINGTON — The Biden White House intends to seek a boost in funding for infrastructure programs and freight-related grants in its upcoming budget request to Congress.

Budget officials at the White House plan to present their request to federal lawmakers on March 28. This fiscal 2023 budget proposal, considered a formal policy outline from the administration, is meant as an update of the current federal funding framework, which expires Sept. 30.

The upcoming budget request is expected to call for additional funding for programs that would target supply chain connectivity concerns, senior aides and officials familiar with the budget process recently told Transport Topics. The request also is likely to seek additional aid for climate change programs across transportation sectors, as well as Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic response. Programs related to community policing, health care, education and other social safety net efforts are expected to be emphasized in the budget request as well.

The request is often seen as guidance meant for the consideration of the congressional funding committees. The House and Senate appropriations panels will kick off their annual funding process in the near-term. To evaluate the White House’s budget request, the Senate Budget Committee scheduled a hearing on March 30 with White House Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young.

The Senate-confirmed OMB director garnered praise from senior congressional funding lawmakers.

“Shalanda is a proven leader and a master of the federal budget process who, over the course of her extensive career as a trusted aide and widely respected staff director on the Appropriations committee, has helped shape many of the solutions to some of the most pressing problems facing working families,” House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said this month. “I am grateful for her partnership in enacting the federal spending package signed into law.”

President Joe Biden recently signed a $1.5 trillion funding bill into law. The package was used to avert a partial government shutdown and ensured funding for U.S. Department of Transportation programs. Agencies, such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, were backed by the new funding law.

For fiscal 2022, the law provided $360 million for FMCSA’s safety operations and programs and $496 million for the agency’s safety grants division. The law also included funds for congressionally directed spending projects, or earmarks, emergency aid for the ongoing federal COVID-19 response and defense operations in Ukraine.

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“This bill invests in future prosperity, in our health, and reduces everyday costs for millions of Americans, such as child care, a college education, and heating and cooling costs,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said in reference to the fiscal 2022 law. “This is a bill that invests in us: the American people.”

As part of a new $1 trillion infrastructure policy law, enacted prior to the fiscal 2022 funding law, the Biden administration carved out funds for myriad infrastructure programs. This included so-called mega projects. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, tasked with overseeing the implementation of such new programs, touted the recently approved funds: “Until now, we had limited ability to make awards beyond a certain level, or to support projects with funding from multiple federal grant programs.”

Added the secretary: “Under this approach and with a major infusion of new funding, we have the capacity to greenlight more transformational projects that will create good-paying union jobs, grow the economy, and make our transportation system safer and more resilient.”