Yesterday, the Senate passed a four-bill spending package (H.R. 6147) combining FY19 appropriations for Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Agriculture-FDA, Interior-Environment, and Financial Services. Senators adopted a substitute amendment including four Senate spending bills and 46 amendments. The House-passed H.R. 6147 spending package did not include appropriations for the Transportation and HUD departments. The legislation will now be sent to conference negotiations with the House in September.
The Senate’s T-HUD bill provides $71.4 billion in discretionary spending for the U.S. Departments of Transportation (USDOT) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and other related agencies. This exceeds the amount requested by the administration by $23.4 billion and the amount provided in FY18 by $1.12 billion.
At a glance, the Senate T-HUD appropriations bill:
Allocates $26.6 billion in discretionary funding to the Department of Transportation; total resources are $380.5 million more than in FY18 and $10.5 billion more than requested. Highlights include:
- $1 billion for the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) program (formerly TIGER). The amount is less than $1.5 billion provided in FY18, but is nevertheless a historic high for the program. The administration did not request BUILD funding for FY19.
- The Federal Transit Administration continues to be funded at FY18 enacted levels ($13.5 billion). Measures are included for formula, capital investment, and transit infrastructure grants.
- Does not provide any new funding for the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) program.
Allocates $44.5 billion in discretionary funding to the Department of Housing and Urban Development; $1.8 billion more than in FY18 and $12.8 billion more than requested. Highlights include:
- Rejection of the administration’s proposal to eliminate the Community Development Block Grant, HOME Investment Partnerships, and Choice Neighborhoods Initiatives programs; maintains funding for all programs at FY18 enacted levels, with the exception of CHOICE ($50 million below FY18 levels).
- $22.8 billion for tenant-based rental assistance programs under Section 8 of the Housing Act, $766 million for than FY18 enacted levels. Project-based rental assistance programs subsidizing landlords who offer housing to low-income individuals and families received $11.7 billion in discretionary spending, $600 million above FY18 enacted levels.
- Maintains the Public Housing Capital Fund and Public Housing Operating Fund above FY18 enacted levels.
The legislation demonstrates the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee’s commitment to our nation’s housing, transportation, infrastructure, and community development programs and the safe, equitable, and sustainable development of America’s cities and towns. However, our work is far from over. In order to protect at-risk funding streams, to create new capital for housing and infrastructure programs, and to continue securing increased HUD and USDOT funding in the next fiscal, LOCUS will continue working with our members and allies to protect the future of our communities.
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Other news from Washington
Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) releases draft infrastructure proposal
The chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has released “a framework for Congress to begin to seriously address, in a fiscally responsible and bipartisan manner, how… to provide the Nation with the 21st century infrastructure it needs and deserves.” Draft discussion highlights include:
- Establishing a per gallon user fee on diesel used by passenger trains and a 10% user fee on the wholesale price of adult bicycle tires to help restore funding to the Highway Trust Fund.
- Extending the funding, policies, and programs of the FAST Act through fiscal year 2021.
- Authorizing funds for FY19-21 for the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) program.
- Providing additional funding for certain highway, public transportation, and rail programs for FY19-21.
House Ways and Means Chair releases Tax Reform 2.0
On July 24th, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) published the Housing GOP Listening Session Framework, a document outlining Congress’s “new commitment to improve the tax code each and every year for American families and local businesses.” Tax Reform 2.0 is widely seen as a messaging platform for Republican lawmakers to reference in their meetings with constituents during Congress’s August campaigning recess. Highlights include:
- Committing Congress to re-assessing the nation’s tax code every year and taking action to ensure that it continues to be “competitive, innovative, and always better”
- Protecting middle-class and small business tax cuts
- Promoting family savings
- Spurring new business innovation
The document does not correct any mistakes found in last year’s tax reform bill. Tax Reform 2.0 has a slim chance of moving through the Senate in this Congress, where it would need 9 Democrats’ support. Last year’s tax overhaul was pushed through by reconciliation, without any Democratic support.
Photo: Tim Evanson via Flickr