House THUD Appropriations Subcommittee Passes FY 2016 DOT Spending Bill and includes TSW Policy Riders

On Wednesday, April 29, 2015, the House Appropriations Transportation and Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee marked up its version of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Department of Transportation appropriations bill. This is an usually early start for the annual appropriations process which usually does not get underway until late June or July. This is part of a Republican effort to get back to “regular order” and try to pass all the annual federal agency funding bills before the October 1 start of the new fiscal year.
Some highlights of the bill include:

  • Highway and Transit formula programs are held at the same level as in FY’15 (and the same as FY 2014) – highways at $40.2 billion and transit at $8.59 billion -pending a new MAP-21 bill.
  • Transit Capital Investment Grants (New Starts/Small Starts/Core Capacity) are funded at $1.92 billion, a 9.4% cut from the $2.12 billion in FY 2015. The bill provides requested funding levels for all current “Full Funding Grant Agreement” (FFGA) transit projects, and an additional $250M for projects that will enter a FFGA by the end of FY 2016. Also included is $40 million for core capacity projects, and full funding for all state and local “Small Starts” projects that will begin in FY 2016. The bill caps the federal share of new FFGAs at 50%.
  • TIGER is funded at $100 million, down from $500 million in FY 2015. As in FY 2015, no funding is available for planning projects.
  • Amtrak Operating Grants are funded at $289 million, up from the $250 million in FY 2015.
  • Amtrak Capital and Debt Service Grants are funded at $850 million, a 25% decrease from the $1.14 billion in FY 2015.
  • No funding is provided for high-speed rail.
  • TSW policy riders which included:
    • FedEx Double 33’ tractor trailers on federal and local roads (THUD bill Sec. 125). This language would overturn state laws and force states to accept trucks that are at least 84 feet long on federal, state and local roads.
    • Allow truck size and weight increases by allowing a “state option”, raising the federal 80,000 lbs. limit to 97,000 lbs. and more, or granting weight or length exemptions for specific states such as Idaho and Kansas (THUD bill Secs. 124 and 126) or specific industries.

House THUD Bill

House THUD Subcommittee Press Release

The Senate has not yet introduced its version of the FY 2016 THUD bill. In past years, the Senate (at least while under Democratic control) has frequently restored some or all of the funding for the TIGER and Amtrak programs.

Program Final FY’14 Funding Level Final FY’15 Funding Level House THUD Proposed FY’16 Funding
Core Highway Program – Obligation Limit $40.25B $40.25B $40.25B
Transit Formula – including Bus and Bus Facilities $8.6B $8.6B $8.6B
Transit Capital Improvement Grants (New Starts/Small Starts/Core Capacity) $1.94B plus unused prior year funding = $2.13B total $2.12B $1.921B
TIGER Discretionary Grants $600M $500M $100M
Amtrak total $1.39B $1.39B $1.13B
High Speed Rail $0 $0 $0