Transportation Funding Bills on Verge
- Written by Mark Kuhar
July 31, 2013 – Congress is doing something right today. The U.S. Senate continued consideration of its FY’14 Transportation and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill (S.1243), the spending measure covering nearly all U.S. Department of Transportation programs, according to NSSGA. The $54 billion bill is $2.3 billion more than the FY’13 enacted level and nearly $10 billion more than the House version. Several amendments are pending, including one by Sen. Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.) that would require DOT to assess the impact on domestic employment before issuing waivers of "buy American" requirements for federal highway projects and another by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) requiring the department to report to Congress on the condition of each state’s highways and bridges. On the south side of the U.S. Capitol Building, the House’s version of the THUD bill (H.R.2610) hit the floor July 30 under an open rule, meaning any member can offer any germane amendment that conforms to House and budget rules. This will consume some serious floor time, but the $44.1 billion spending bill is expected to pass before members leave town to begin the August recess. Despite the $10 billion gap in funding, both bills fully fund highway and transportation safety programs as authorized under last year’s MAP-21 surface transportation bill, including a $557 million boost to fill the gap between the Highway Trust Fund receipts and authorized highway, rail and transit expenditures.