Committees in both House and Senate pass appropriations bills for transportation, housing and urban development

The House Appropriations Committee, in meeting today. Image via C-SPAN.

The appropriations committees in both chambers of Congress passed bills this morning that will decide funding for transportation, housing and urban development programs in fiscal year 2014.

In the Senate, the committee’s proposal includes funding for many of the country’s most important community development programs. The Department of Transportation (DOT)’s TIGER grant program would receive $550 million to support a wide variety of transportation projects including bridges, public transit and railroads. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s Integrated Planning and Investment grants, part of the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities, would be allocated $75 million for the coming year.

“HUD’s programs solve local problems with local people,” said Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). The Senate committee passed the bill quickly, just after 10 AM, with few remarks.

In the House, however, member after member stood up to voice their opposition to a bill that would drastically reduce funding for nearly every program included in the bill. Representatives offered amendments countering the House bill’s drastic cuts, but were struck down one by one.

The House bill would provide no funding for many of the programs that enjoy bipartisan support in the Senate. The House voted to strip all funding from DOT’s TIGER program and rescind funding awarded in the last fiscal year. At HUD, the House bill allocated “no funding is provided for either the Neighborhood Stabilization Program or Integrated Planning and Investment Grants.” Other HUD programs such as the popular Community Development Block Grants were funded at historically low levels, stripping more than 50% of the program’s funding.

With such divergent bills from both chambers, the next step in the appropriations process will have the bills considered on chamber floors. Ultimately, Congress will need to reconcile funding levels for each of these programs.

Tell Congress that you support these programs

Congress will continue to debate these programs in the coming weeks, and they need to hear from their constituents that these programs are important.

Speak out for community development programs: Send a letter to your members of Congress today.

If you have already sent a letter to Congress about these issues, thank you. Today’s votes clearly show that many members are fighting to include these programs, and that’s thanks in part to supporters like you.

If you haven’t yet spoken out to your Senators and Representatives, take a moment to send a letter today.