On July 10, the House Appropriations Committee introduced its version of the fiscal year 2018 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development spending bill. The bill includes funding for the Department of Transportation (USDOT), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and other related agencies. In total, the bill reflects an allocation of $56.5 billion in discretionary spending — $1.1 billion below fiscal year 2017 levels and $8.6 billion above the President’s request.
House of Representatives
EPA Brownfields funds helped transform the site of a former tin manufacturing and can factory into a mixed-use office and retail hub in Canton, Baltimore, MD. Photo via EPA.
Earlier this month, the Senate passed a bill to authorize and improve the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfields program. Now the House of Representatives is moving to do the same.
Last week Representatives Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-6) and Paul D. Tonko (NY-20) introduced the Brownfields Authorization Increase Act of 2016 (H.R. 5782). The legislation would amend the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act to enhance EPA’s Brownfields program and include it as a formal part of the federal budget.
Last week the House of Representatives passed its initial version of a multiyear transportation bill. This bill has the potential to make streets safer across the country, help communities build more homes and offices near transit, and give more control of transportation investments to local communities. In order for this to happen, though, the House’s version of the bill needs to improve considerably.
Representatives agree: they’ve filed more than 200 amendments to the current version of the bill. Today the Rules Committee will decide which ones to allow to the floor. And then later this week, the full House will vote on all the amendments and create their final version of the bill.
Several amendments under consideration would improve how the bill supports walkable communities served by transit, including:
- Amendment #18 from Representative Lipinski of Illinois, which would make transit-oriented development (TOD) eligible for RRIF funding.
- Amendment #21 from Representative DeSaulnier of California, which would improve planning and project selection performance measures and transparency.
- Amendment #37, also from Representative Lipinski, which expresses the Sense of Congress that TOD is an eligible activity under the RRIF program.
- Amendment #47 from Representative Schakowsky of Illinois that would require a study and rule on safety standards or performance measures to improve pedestrian safety.
On Wednesday the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment held a hearing to examine the many benefits of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfields program. The program has been funded for the past several years but is not a formally authorized part of the federal budget. Wednesday’s hearing examined whether that should change.
BEFORE AND AFTER: Atlantic Station in Midtown Atlanta was previously the site of an Atlantic Steel facility. The EPA’s Brownfields program helped make the redevelopment project possible.
Did you know that every federal dollar spent on brownfields cleanup leverages $17.79 in value for communities? And that redeveloping one acre of contaminated land creates an average of 10 jobs? These benefits don’t stop where the brownfield ends: the value of residential property near brownfield sites can increase anywhere from 5.1 to 12.8 percent when cleanup is complete.
These are just some of the many reasons why brownfields cleanup and redevelopment is a great investment of federal dollars, yet the Brownfields program at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not formally authorized in the federal budget. Congress has the power to change that, and this week members of the House of Representatives will examine whether to do make brownfields cleanup an official part of the federal budget.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) took the first step toward comprehensive tax reform yesterday and introduced a proposal that would have a mixed impact on communities’ efforts to grow in smart, economically efficient ways. Geoff Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America, and Chris Leinberger, President of LOCUS, issued this joint statement in response:
“Above all, we’re glad Congress is finally tackling comprehensive tax reform. Hundreds of billions are currently spent through the tax code on housing and community development and much of this could be spent better than it is today. For anyone who wants to see these incentives achieve their maximum effect—helping Americans access good affordable housing choices in safe, stable, thriving communities, tax reform is a must.
Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, is one of the recipients of this week’s letters. Photo via the Committee on Appropriations.
Last month we asked smart growth advocates to speak out in support of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. Hundreds of supporters sent letters to their members of Congress, and Congress listened.
If you were one of the many people who sent letters to your members of Congress, thank you. Your voice was heard and Congress is taking action to support these important programs. In total, 29 members of Congress signed letters championing better development programs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in fiscal year 2014’s budget.
In anticipation of the upcoming election season, Congress has passed a continuing resolution (CR) to extend federal spending until March 27, 2013.
Leaders in both chambers have pushed for the passage a CR in order to avoid a government shutdown so close to the November election. Funding for the current federal programs, which was scheduled to expire at the end of September, will remain unchanged until March at which point Congress will revisit budget negotiations. The resolution passed the House with overwhelming support on September 13. The Senate deliberated the measure, and eventually passed the resolution, 62-30. President Obama signed the CR late last week.
Over the past month, members of Congress have been negotiating details of the federal transportation bill. Now, members of the House of Representatives have proposed allowing states to opt out of a program that would let communities make it safer to walk to public transportation, revitalize a Main Street or create bike trails for families.
The House proposal would eliminate the small amount of money going directly to metropolitan areas, and would let state-level leaders decide whether communities ever see a dime of this funding. The move is slap in the face of city councils, mayors, and county leaders from across the country on both sides of the aisle who are creating the great neighborhoods so many Americans already know and love.
This week, the House Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee marked up their spending bill for the 2013 fiscal year. The bill funds HUD’s Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities to continue its operations, though funding for the tremendously popular Regional Planning and Community Challenge grants was not included. Also lacking in the bill was funding for DOT’s TIGER grants.