SUMMARY: Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Approves FY2019 Transportation, HUD Appropriations Bill
WASHINGTON (TUESDAY, JUNE 7, 2018) – The fiscal year 2019 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Senate Appropriations bill provides a total of $71.417 billion in discretionary budget authority – $1.117 billion more than fiscal year 2018 and $23.421 billion more than the budget request. Additional resources are provided to prevent and end homelessness among veterans, youth, and victims of domestic violence, as well as to maintain existing rental housing assistance for nearly 5 million low-income households nationwide. The bill also directs investments to improve the safety and efficiency of our transportation networks, which serve as the backbone of our economy, and meet the everyday needs of America’s businesses, commuters, and families.
U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, said, “This bill makes critical investments in improving the safety and efficiency of our transportation and housing infrastructure and connecting more Americans to jobs and opportunities. The bill contains bipartisan policies and funding to upgrade our roads, rails, airports, and transit systems and holds the Administration accountable for getting money moving to essential projects. I am pleased we were able to sustain strong funding for community development and affordable housing production, while expanding targeted investments in lead hazard remediation. I appreciate Chairman Collins’ bipartisan commitment to working across the aisle. Together with our colleagues, we have produced a bill that will help strengthen our economy, create jobs, and make critical investments in America’s future.”
Key Points & Highlights
The bill provides funding for the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and other related agencies. These agencies manage many of the programs that build and maintain our nation’s transportation network and support housing and economic development in our communities.
The subcommittee rejects the President’s proposed $10.5 billion cut to DOT discretionary programs and instead provides $26 billion of direct investment at a time when the demand to fix our aging infrastructure is at an all-time high. The subcommittee also disagrees with the President’s plan to change the longstanding, collaborative Federal-State partnership for transit and passenger rail projects that would result in states and local jurisdictions paying more or facing the elimination of critical mobility options for millions of commuters. Instead, the bill responds with sustained funding for Amtrak and the Federal Transit Administration, as well as $565 million for rail infrastructure and safety grants.
For HUD programs, the bill provides $49 billion in programmatic funding and the subcommittee rejects the Administration’s proposed $12.7 billion cut. The subcommittee rejects the President’s proposal to eliminate rental assistance for hundreds of thousands of households through attrition, as well as the proposed administrative reforms to HUD’s rental assistance programs that would increase rent burdens on already financially-burdened tenants. Furthermore, the bill restores critical housing production and economic development programs, which were proposed for elimination in the President’s budget request. This includes sustained investments in the HOME program and the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, which give local governments the resources they need to develop their communities, support businesses, create jobs, and ensure the availability of decent, affordable housing.
For overall infrastructure-related investments at both DOT and HUD, the bill includes a total of $10.88 billion in new budgetary resources as compared to fiscal year 2017, creating an estimated 140,000 jobs. The investments in transportation will allow for the development of transformative projects throughout the country across all modes of transportation, as well as make significant strides to address the deferred maintenance backlog in our airport, highway, rail, and transit systems. The investments in housing will fund HUD’s community development, housing construction and rehabilitation programs in fiscal year 2019, to include the repair and restoration of physically-distressed housing and neighborhoods, new affordable housing development, and improvements to the physical conditions of our nation’s housing stock. These combined investments will leverage approximately $17 billion in public and private funding.
Department of Transportation
- Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER): The bill includes $1 billion for the popular TIGER program, $500 million below the fiscal year 2018 level. The subcomittee rejects the President’s proposal to eliminate funding for this program. The TIGER program allows for communities to make transformative investments in their surface transportation infrastructure that address congestion, improve safety, create jobs, and expand economic opportunities nationwide. This increased investment would help up to 60 more communities across the country make the necessary transportation investments to remain competitive in the global economy and would also create 13,000 additional jobs.
- Airport Improvement Program (AIP): The bill provides an additional $750 million in general fund resources for the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) AIP grants for airport safety, construction, and noise mitigation, for a total funding level of $4.1 billion. This level of general fund appropriations is $250 million below the fiscal year 2018 level and $750 million more than the President’s request. According to the FAA’s latest National Plan of Integrated Airport System, which was released in late September 2016, airports will need $32.5 billion for AIP-eligible projects between fiscal years 2017 and 2021 – or $6.5 billion annually. That is nearly twice the authorized level of $3.35 billion that airports have received in annual AIP funding in recent years. As a result of the Bipartisan Budget Agreement, fiscal year 2018 and the Senate’s fiscal year 2019 resources would provide a cumulative total of $8.45 billion in budgetary resources for our nation’s airports - $1.75 billion above the authorized level - to meet critical capacity expansion and safety demands while generating an estimated 22,750 new jobs.
- Federal Highway Administration (FHWA): The bill includes $3.3 billion in general fund appropriations and $46 billion in obligation limitation for a total of $49.3 billion for FHWA activities. This level of funding is $1.8 billion above the fiscal year 2018 level and $3.5 billion above the budget request. The proposed general fund increase to the FAST Act authorized level includes $2.4 billion in FHWA formula funds, $90 million for railway-highway grade crossing safety, and $800 million for bridge repair and replacement, generating an estimated 42,900 jobs. The $800 million formula bridge program will provide grants to states and the District of Columbia based on the percentage of bridges in poor condition. Funding must be used for bridge projects in areas with a population of less than 200,000, unless those areas do not exist or the state does not have bridge projects in those areas.
- Transit: The bill includes a total of $13.514 billion for transit-related activities, of which $2.55 billion is for Capital Investment Grants, $150 million is for WMATA, and $800 million is from general fund increases to FAST Act formula programs. This level of funding is $33 million above the fiscal year 2018 level and $2.4 billion above the budget request. Within the $800 million increase to formula programs, $362 million is for State-of-Good-Repair formula grants, $400 million is for Bus and Bus Facilities grants, and $30 million is for High Density State Apportionments. This increase in resources will assist transit agencies with purchasing buses and rail cars, building maintenance facilities, and addressing a $90 billion transit state-of-good-repair backlog across the country.
- Rail Funding: The bill provides $2.769 billion for the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), which is $323 million below the fiscal year 2018 level, $1.76 billion above the budget request, and $917 million above fiscal year 2017. Overall, the appropriations for rail safety and infrastructure grants are consistent with the authorized level of funding, and $467 million more than fiscal year 2017. The Committee also set deadlines for grant awards in order to ensure timely expenditure of funds.
- Positive Train Control: The bill provides $10 million for oversight of PTC implementation at FRA.
- Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Grants: The bill provides $255 million for CRISI grants along with a 25 percent rural set-aside. This funding level is $338 million less than fiscal year 2018 and $255 million above the President’s budget request. CRISI can be used for a broad number of eligible activities that address safety and infrastructure needs. Eligible projects include deployment of railroad safety technology, such as PTC, and capital projects, including stations or platforms, rail line relocation or improvement, highway-railway grade crossing improvement projects, and planning and environmental work.
- Federal-State Partnership for State-of-Good-Repair (SOGR): The bill includes $300 million for SOGR along with a 25 percent rural set-aside. This funding level is $50 million above the fiscal year 2018 level and $300 million above the President’s budget request. These grants support capital investment and maintenance projects on Amtrak State-supported routes.
- Restoration and Enhancement Grants: The bill provides $10 million for Restoration and Enhancement Grants. This level of funding is $10 million below the fiscal year 2018 level and $10 million above the President’s budget request. These grants support operating assistance for new or improved passenger rail service.
- Amtrak: The bill includes $1.94 billion for Amtrak, of which $650 million is for the Northeast Corridor, consistent with fiscal year 2018. The bill includes $50 million for safety technology on State-supported routes where PTC is not required.
- Maritime Administration: The bill meets the national security demands of the Maritime Security Program, providing $300 million for fiscal year 2019, as authorized. Other notable funding increases include: $18 million for capital improvements and maintenance activities at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, $300 million to fully fund the replacement of the second of six state maritime academy training school ships, $20 million for the Small Shipyard grant program, and $7 million for the Marine Highways grant program. An additional $8 million is also provided for state maritime academy ship sharing agreements in order to help with the operating and logistics needs of transporting students between academies to ensure that students are able to perform their required sea time for Coast Guard licensure.
Department of Housing and Urban Development & Related Agencies
- Youth Homelessness: The bill includes $80 million in the Continuum of Care program to address youth homelessness, as well as an additional $2 million to assess the incidence and prevalence of youth homelessness nationally. This level of funding builds on the more than $85 million in combined investments provided since fiscal year 2016. This funding will allow Continuum of Care grantees to develop and evaluate new housing and supportive service interventions for youth experiencing homelessness. The bill also continues to waive third-party documentation requirements for youth in order to rapidly connect those experiencing homelessness to HUD housing and supportive services. Additionally, the bill continues investments in the Family Unification Program by providing an additional $20 million to support 2,500 new rental assistance vouchers for youth aging out of foster care.
- Victims and Survivors of Domestic Violence: In November 2016, HUD expanded housing protections beyond public housing and Section 8 to include all HUD-assisted housing programs and required communities to develop emergency transfer plans to assist victims and survivors of domestic violence, as required by the Violence Against Women Act of 2013. Building on past investments, including in fiscal year 2018, the bill provides $50 million in new targeted funding to help communities facilitate emergency transfers for victims fleeing domestic and dating violence, and experiencing homelessness. This level of funding will make grants available to nonprofits and local governments for rapid re-housing projects, supportive service projects, and coordinated entry activities through HUD’s Continuum of Care program in order to assist more than 3,750 survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking in fiscal year 2019.
- HUD-VASH Vouchers: The subcommittee rejects the President’s proposal to eliminate new resources for this program and includes $40 million to provide 5,100 new incremental rental vouchers for veterans experiencing homelessness. This level of funding is consistent with the fiscal year 2018 enacted level.
- Public Housing Capital Fund: The subcommittee rejects the President’s request to eliminate this program and instead includes $2.775 billion in order to enable public housing agencies to perform the annual routine maintenance and rehabilitation of the nation’s 1.1 million public housing units. This level of funding is $25 million more than the fiscal year 2018 level. This increase in funding includes $25 million to allow PHAs to perform environmental interventions for lead-based paint hazards in approximately 1,500 public housing units in order to meet HUD’s new blood lead level standard. This increase to the lead set-aside builds on the $25 million provided in fiscal year 2017, where more than 80 PHAs have identified unmet needs.
- Community Development Block Grant (CDBG): The subcommittee rejects the President’s proposal to eliminate the CDBG program and includes $3.3 billion, consistent with the fiscal year 2018 enacted level. The bill also provides $65 million for the Indian CDBG program, consistent with the fiscal year 2018 level.
- HOME: The subcommittee rejects the President’s proposal to eliminate the HOME program, the only federal program dedicated solely to the construction of affordable housing, and instead includes $1.362 billion, consistent with fiscal year 2018 enacted. This formula program will help States and local governments to leverage an additional $5.2 billion in public and private investment in order to produce and preserve approximately 35,000 affordable housing units, as well as to provide rental assistance to an additional 10,500 low-income households in fiscal year 2019. Additionally, this investment will result in the creation and preservation of nearly 24,000 jobs.
- Choice Neighborhoods Initiative: The subcommittee rejects the President’s proposal to eliminate Choice Neighborhoods and includes $100 million for neighborhood transformation grants. This level of funding is $50 million below the fiscal year 2018 level. Choice Neighborhoods is a critical resource for community-led transformation and a key tool for State and local governments to improve local infrastructure by redeveloping severely-distressed HUD-assisted housing.
- Lead-Based Paint Hazard Remediation: The bill provides $260 million for the Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes, which is $115 million more than the budget request and $30 million more than fiscal year 2018. This funding level includes up to $170 million for Lead-Based Paint Hazard Control grants, no less than $95 million of which is reserved for those communities with the highest lead-based paint abatement needs. The bill also provides $45 million for the Lead Safe Communities Demonstration program, which will examine the effectiveness of intensive multi-year investments in lead-based paint remediation activities in five low-income communities. This heightened funding is intended to reduce the per unit cost of lead-based paint remediation by creating greater economies of scale and lowering grantees’ administrative expenses. This total funding level will support lead-based paint hazard reductions in up to 15,600 units, providing safer homes for over 55,600 low-income families and individuals, including more than 14,450 children under the age of six. An additional $45 million is also provided to address other health hazards, including radon and mold, in low-income housing.
- Housing for the Elderly: The bill provides $678 million for the Section 202 Housing for the Elderly program, which is $77 million more than the President’s budget request and consistent with fiscal year 2018. This funding will meet the renewal needs of the program, as well as provide $51 million to produce over 370 new units of housing for the elderly. Additionally, the bill includes $10 million for new grants to modify or repair the homes of low-income seniors in order to enable that population to age in place more successfully.
- Self-Help and Assisted Homeownership Opportunity: The bill provides a total of $54 million for the SHOP, Section 4, Rural Capacity Building, and Veterans Home Rehabilitation and Modification Pilot programs, consistent with fiscal year 2018. The subcommittee rejects the President’s request to eliminate these programs. These programs offer homeownership opportunities for low-income families through “sweat equity,” provide technical assistance to improve the capacity of local organizations to carry out community development and affordable housing activities, and repair or modify the homes of low-income and disabled veterans to make them more accessible. The $4 million provided for the Veterans Home Rehabilitation and Modification Pilot program will repair or modify the homes of over 260 low-income and disabled veterans.
- NeighborWorks America: The bill provides $147 million for NeighborWorks, $7 million more than fiscal year 2018, and rejects the President’s proposal to terminate operations over a two year period. This funding will support NeighborWorks’ network of nearly 250 local and regional community development organizations, which provided housing and counseling services to over 455,000 families and individuals and created or maintained 43,600 jobs in fiscal year 2017.
- U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH): USICH, the only federal agency responsible for preventing and ending homelessness, is funded at $3.6 million, consistent with fiscal year 2018 and more than $3.1 million greater than the President’s budget request, which proposed to completely eliminate the agency. Established under the Reagan Administration as part of the landmark McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987, then expanded as part of the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing Act of 2009, USICH has worked across the federal government and private sector to coordinate homeless assistance nationally.
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