DALLAS – A House Appropriations Committee panel will vote Tuesday night on a draft 2018 transportation bill that includes the full $55.4 billion of federal highway and transit funding under a 2015 law as well as up to $900 million for the massive Gateway Project in New York.
The drafted measure, which will be marked up Tuesday night by the subcommittee on transportation and housing and urban development, would not only provide full funding under the 2015 Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act but would also fund the Community Development Block Grant program at $2.9 billion, $100 million less than fiscal 2017.
“The bill provides for infrastructure improvement and safety, as well as essential housing programs that are serving needy populations,” said panel chairman Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla.
The legislation would provide the Department of Housing and Urban Development a total of $38.3 billion of net discretionary spending, $487 million below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level and $6.9 billion more than sought by the Trump administration.
It would appropriate $45 billion of federal highway aid to states from the Highway Trust Fund, $968 million more than in fiscal 2017 and the same as the annual allocation in the FAST Act.
Transit formula grants would be funded at $9.7 billion in 2018, again mirroring the FAST Act. The $11.75 billion budget for the Federal Transit Administration would be $662 million less than in 2017 and $526 million more than requested by President Trump.
The bill would eliminate the popular, stimulus-era Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery discretionary transit grants. TIGER grant funding would drop to zero from $500 million in fiscal 2017.
Funding for the FTA’s Capital Investment Grant program would drop to $1.75 billion, down $660 million from 2017 but $521 million more than sought by Trump.
The measure would provide $1 billion for transit projects with signed New Start grant agreements, $145.7 billion for Core Capacity grants, and $182 million for Small Starts.
The remaining $400 million of transit grants would be available for projects such as Gateway to rebuild rail lines between New Jersey and New York City. Those grants could be combined with more funds under the bill for up to $900 million for the project.
The bill would provide $328 million to Amtrak that is dedicated to infrastructure upgrades in the Northeast Corridor from Washington to Boston. It also would fund “a state of good repair” rail grant program at $500 million to help address the corridor’s $38 billion maintenance backlog.
The measure would provide no additional grant funding for transit projects that could have been in line to complete an agreement in fiscal 2018, including Maryland’s $5.6 billion Purple Line light rail project being financed as a public-private partnership.