By Dean Franks, senior vice president, Congressional relations, ARTBA
The Senate Oct. 31 passed a bundle of – FY 2020 spending bills, H.R. 3055 including one funding the U.S. Department of Transportation programs – in a modest sign of progress toward implementing full-year spending levels before the current spending law expires Nov. 21. The House passed its version of the package June 25.
The Senate-passed legislation contains full-funding at authorized levels for highway and airport construction programs but falls short for public transportation capital grant programs. Following recent precedent and in accordance with the two-year bipartisan budget agreement reached in July, the legislation also includes additional funding from the General Fund on highway, transit and airport programs beyond the authorized spending levels. A full breakdown of spending and a comparison to the House-passed version of this bill can be found below.
The ARTBA Co-Chaired Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) Oct. 30 wrote to the Senate to weigh in on various amendments to the legislation that were being considered. The full letter can be found here. The only amendment that was considered of the five the coalition supported or opposed was the Jones-McSally amendment to prevent a potential cut to core transit programs. The 82-11 vote in support of the amendment demonstrates overwhelming support for public transportation spending at the federal level, a priority for ARTBA.
The 84-9 sweeping bipartisan vote on the entire bill reflects broad support for agencies funded by this package. The legislation now heads to what is known as a “conference committee,” where differences between the Senate and House-passed bills will be negotiated. ARTBA will continue advocating for maximum funding for highway, public transportation and airport construction programs and encourage Congress to enact a final bill before the current spending package expires Nov. 21.