The House approved legislation on Wednesday to fund the government after the current authorization law expires March 27, over transportation advocates' objections that it would cut millions of dollars for highways and transit.
The House approved the continuing resolution sponsored by House Appropriations Committee chairman Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., by a 267-151 vote.
The CR cuts transportation funding below what Congress agreed to in the two-year Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century highway spending law enacted last summer, slashing $555 million for highways and $117 million for public transit.
Transportation industry groups and leading Senate Democrats urged House leaders to amend the bill and avoid those cuts. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials expressed disappointment at the CR, and the American Public Transit Association said the cuts could damage the ability of issuers to leverage federal dollars into investment.
"The funding levels in MAP-21 are fully paid for with offsets included in the bill and do not increase the federal deficit," APTA president and chief executive officer Michael Melaniphy said after the vote. "As the bill advances through the legislative process in the House and Senate, we urge Congress to preserve the levels agreed to in MAP-21 that will fund badly needed capital investments in public transit systems around the nation and leverage state and local investment."
Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Tim Johnson, D- S.D., and Jay Rockefeller, D- W. Va., all chairs of committees with jurisdiction over transportation in the Senate, also lobbied House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio to avoid the cuts, earlier in the week.
House Transportation Committee chairman Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., told reporters he wanted to see the Map-21 levels honored but that passing the CR to avoid a government shutdown was a bigger priority.
"The continuing resolution will avoid a government shutdown and continue to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year," said Shuster after the vote. "Passing this legislation today gives the Senate ample time to act on this proposal and avert another fiscal crisis."