House and Senate appropriators passed competing FY’14 Transportation and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bills within hours of each other June 27, setting up the possibility that both spending measures will see floor time in July. Despite a day of impressive productivity for the committees, the bills as written are more than $10 billion apart in spending levels provided for transportation and housing programs, and the continued absence of an overall budget agreement increases the likelihood of the need for yet another continuing resolution this fall.
The $54 billion Senate bill passed 22-to-8, with six Republicans joining the majority in favor. The House version, at $44.1 billion, was approved on a straight party line vote of 28-to-20. Both chambers adjourned the following day, June 28, to begin the weeklong Independence Day recess. Congress returns to Washington July 8.
It is important to note that both bills fully fund highway and transportation safety programs as authorized under last year’s surface transportation bill, MAP-21, at $40.1 billion and included in the Senate bill is a $557 million boost to fill the gap between the Highway Trust Fund receipts and authorized highway, rail and transit expenditures. The $10 billion difference between the two versions of the spending bill can be found in the House’s cuts to Amtrak and technology to improve the nation’s air traffic control system, as well as the elimination of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery discretionary grant program created in the 2009 stimulus package.
Both full committee chairs – Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) – have stated their hopes of seeing their respective bills cleared for floor time in July, but schedules from leadership have yet to materialize. NSSGA is closely following action on these appropriations measures and will continue to update members on developments.