The House of Representatives narrowly passed H.R. 2577, a $55.3 billion fiscal 2016 transportation-housing spending measure, by a vote of 210-216. It provides nearly $40.3 billion from the Highway Trust Fund to be spent on the Federal-aid Highways Program, equal to FY2015.
The bill would provide $9.7 billion less for the transportation and housing agencies than President Barack Obama’s FY16 budget request.
In the battle over funding levels, Democratic votes were lost due to inadequate funding levels and conservative votes were absent because they considered the levels too high. All eyes turn to the Senate to see whether it moves forward so the two chambers can work on a compromise prior to the fiscal year starting on October 1.
National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA) Sr. Vice President Pam Whitted commented, “While we are pleased the House has passed the transportation appropriations bill, it just maintains level funding of the program. The bill fails to come anywhere close to meeting the growing needs of the nation’s surface transportation network.”
While the House passing the annual appropriations for the Transportation and Housing Departments is positive, passage of a comprehensive surface transportation reauthorization is required to set future program policies and provide the funding needed to implement them.
Furthermore, the congressional finance committees must find the monies to meet the funding levels contained in the reauthorization bill.