According to the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association, Congress is making progress on bills that could impact the aggregates industry.
The U.S. Senate advanced its 2017 transportation funding package, with a total of $56.5 billion in funding for the U.S. Departments of Transportation (DOT), Housing and Urban Development and related Agencies (THUD). This bill will fund 99.5 percent of Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act funding levels, with $44 billion to highways and $16.4 billion to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
NSSGA and the construction industry are concerned about the transfer of $2.2 billion in unspent highway funds that will be allocated to other DOT programs.
“We are pleased that Congress is working to pass the annual 2017 transportation spending bill and that both the Senate and House bills fund highways in accordance with the FAST Act,” remarked Pam Whitted, NSSGA senior vice president of government and regulatory affairs. “Hopefully, Congress will move forward on this appropriations bill and follow it with others to avoid a train wreck at the end of the fiscal year, which benefits no one.”
The Senate also voted on May 19 to add $1.1 billion to the THUD bill in order to fund efforts to fight the Zika virus. No schedule has been set yet for votes on germane transportation amendments. The White House has threatened to veto the bill because it does not include funding for administration green growth transportation programs and it includes less Zika funding than the Administration-proposed funding level of $1.9 billion.
Meanwhile, the House Appropriations subcommittee charged with setting DOT spending levels approved a draft fiscal 2017 spending measure for THUD totaling $58.2 billion, an increase of $1.7 billion over the Senate measure. The House bill has identical funding levels for highways, but FAA funding would see a slight increase to $16.3 billion.
Airport Improvement Program funding is set at $3.35 billion, the same as the Senate bill. Overall, the House bill would fund 99.7 percent of FAST Act obligations. It does not include a rescission of unobligated project funds.