Senate subcommittee votes to restore funding to HUD’s Sustainable Communities Initiative

Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development approved its FY 2013 spending bill, including a restoration of $50 million in funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Sustainable Communities Initiative.

The subcommittee voted 15-1 to approve the bill, which contains $53.4 billion for Transportation, Housing and Urban Development spending for FY 2013, a 3.5% decrease from current levels. During the markup, Subcommittee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) emphasized the important role infrastructure investment plays in creating jobs and improving our economy.

“This legislation will create jobs and make critical investments in our nation’s roads, bridges, rail and transit systems, and airports. The bill also preserves an essential part of the country’s safety net by protecting housing assistance for low-income families and veterans,” Murray later said in a statement.

Under the leadership of Murray and Ranking Member Susan Collins (R-ME), priority was placed on funding Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants, Amtrak, and transit programs at the Department of Transportation (DOT), and housing assistance and Community Development Block Grant program (CDBG) at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Under the propsal, HUD’s CDBG program would be budgeted at $152 million, slightly above current levels, and funding for the Sustainable Communities Initiative is included within these funds. The Choice Neighborhoods program would be budgeted at $120 million, and the HOME program at $1 billion.

DOT’s popular TIGER program would be funded at $500 million, and funding for the federal-aid highway program would be maintained at its FY 2012 level of $39.1 billion. Within FTA, the New Starts program would receive an $89 million increase over current levels, for a total of $2.044 billion. Increased funding is also proposed for Amtrak, which would receive $1.45 billion of an aggregate $1.75 billion for rail infrastructure. Of this total, $100 million would go to a High Performance Passenger Rail grant program. A new “distracted driving” grant program is also established, as part of the bill’s increased emphasis on transportation safety.

The full Appropriations Committee is scheduled to vote on the spending bill tomorrow morning.