SUMMARY: Subcommittee Approves FY2020 Transportation, HUD Appropriations Bill
Washington, D.C. – The fiscal year 2020 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Senate Appropriations bill provides $74.3 billion in discretionary budget authority – $2.6 billion more than the fiscal year 2019 enacted level, and $15.8 billion more than the President’s request. The programs and activities supported by this bill include significant responsibilities entrusted to the Federal government and its partners to protect human health and safety by providing additional resources to prevent and end homelessness, as well as housing stability for nearly 5 million low-income households nationwide, the majority of which are elderly or disabled. The bill also sustains strong investments into efficiency of our transportation networks, including the operation of the world’s safest and most complex air transportation system.
U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, said: “This bill is a positive step toward strengthening our transportation and housing infrastructure to enhance mobility, safety, and quality of life for all Americans. It rejects draconian cuts from the Trump Administration and provides needed resources to prevent and end homelessness, and a real path out of poverty. But we’ve got to do more. We must make forward-looking investments in our national infrastructure, including our roads, bridges, housing, and new technologies. This bill is a concrete example of bipartisan progress, but much more is possible if we focus on building bridges, not walls.”
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.
The bill rejects the President’s proposed $3.58 billion cut to DOT programs and instead provides $86.6 billion in budgetary resources, $168 million more than fiscal year 2019, allowing for the strong sustainment of investments in our transportation infrastructure. Within this total, the Senate bill provides $25.3 billion in discretionary appropriations and $61.3 billion in obligation limitation. The bill also disagrees with the President’s plan to change the longstanding, collaborative Federal-State partnership for passenger rail services 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, robust funding for Amtrak and continues key investments in transportation projects that address population growth and congestion and improve the overall safety and infrastructure of our nation’s roads, bridges, and railways.
For HUD programs, the bill provides $48.6 billion in programmatic funding for fiscal year 2020, which is $4.04 billion more than fiscal year 2019. On an overwhelming bipartisan basis, the bill rejects the President’s proposal to cut $11.96 billion in popular programs, which would totally eliminate our Federal affordable housing and economic development investment opportunities, including the Public Housing Capital Fund, HOME, Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), and Choice Neighborhoods. These programs are a critical component to bridging the gap between stable housing and homelessness for a significant percentage of our minimum wage workforce that would have to work nearly 103 hours a week, or 2.5 full time jobs, in order to afford a one bedroom rental unit at the national average fair market rent. Sky rocketing rents and wage stagnation has created an affordable housing crisis across the country, with 71 percent of low-income renters spending more than half of their income on housing and more than half a million people without shelter on any given night. At a time when we face a shortage of seven million affordable homes for the low-income nationwide, the preservation of these housing programs is absolutely essential.
Department of Transportation
Federal Aviation Administration: The Senate bill provides $17.69 billion in budgetary resources, which is $236 million above the fiscal year 2019 enacted level, $583 million above the President’s budget request, and $32 million below the fiscal year 2020 House bill. This funding level includes $3.8 billion for Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants, which support airport safety, terminal, and noise mitigation projects. The bill also supports a total of $1.2 billion for Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) investments, which is $189 million more than fiscal year 2019. Investments in the deployment of NextGen technologies will help the FAA and the aviation industry to cut travel times, reduce emissions, and better manage congestion and noise challenges. Further, the Committee increases funding for Aviation Safety by $23 million for a total of $1.359 billion in order to strengthen the safety inspector workforce and enable the Department to address identified weaknesses in the aircraft certification process.
Federal Highways: The bill includes $2.7 billion in discretionary appropriations and $47 billion in obligation limitation for a total of $49.8 billion for Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) activities. This level of funding is $546 million above the fiscal year 2019 level and $2.6 billion above the budget request. The proposed discretionary increase to the FAST Act authorized level includes $1.25 billion in FHWA formula funds, $1.25 billion for bridge repair and replacement, $100 million for the National Significant Federal Lands and Tribal transportation program, and $100 million for the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS).
Transit and Rail: The bill provides more than $15.7 billion for transit- and rail-related activities, an increase of nearly $1.3 billion from the President’s budget request. Of the amounts provided, $2.8 billion is included for the Federal Railroad Administration and Amtrak for critical rail safety and infrastructure improvements. Specifically, the bill rejects the President’s proposal to cut Amtrak’s funding by 52 percent and instead provides $2 billion for the Northeast Corridor (NEC) and National Network, an increase of $58 million from fiscal year 2019. For the replacement of the single-level passenger cars used on the NEC and State-supported routes, the bill includes $100 million to support a multi-year, $1.5 billion acquisition to replace Amtrak’s 40-year old fleet. The bill rejects the President’s proposal to eliminate the Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair program and instead provides $300 million to fund the replacement, rehabilitation, or repair of major infrastructure assets that are utilized for providing intercity passenger rail service and continues to reject the President’s proposal to phase out Amtrak-operated long-distance routes.
For transit investments, the bill includes nearly $13 billion in budget authority, which is $562 million above the President’s budget request. Of this amount, the bill includes $560 million in increases to FAST Act formula programs, including $390 million for Bus and Bus Repair, $40 million for State of Good Repair, $40 million for Low and No Emission grants, $40 million for formula grants for rural areas, and $40 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.
Department of Housing and Urban Development & Related Agencies
Overall, the bill provides $48.6 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development for fiscal year 2020. This level of funding is $4.4 billion more than fiscal year 2019 and $11.9 billion above the President’s budget request. The bill makes key investments to: preserve affordable housing for nearly 5 million low-income households, prevent and end homelessness for the more than 552,000 people experiencing homelessness, expand affordable housing and community development opportunities in more than 1,200 communities, and improve environmental conditions for more than 19,000 low-income households. Specifically, the bill accomplishes the following:
Preserves Affordable Housing: The bill provides nearly $45.1 billion to preserve the nation’s affordable housing for low-income HUD-assisted households currently served through the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher and Project-based Rental Assistance programs, and other assisted housing programs. This level of funding is an increase of more than $2.1 billion from fiscal year 2019 and an increase of more than $4.1 billion from the President’s budget request. The bill rejects the President’s proposed rent reforms and mandatory work requirements that would force already vulnerable families to choose between maintaining childcare or paying for medical expenses and homelessness. The bill also rejects the President’s proposal to eliminate funding for Public Housing Capital Formula Grants, the sole federal resource for the repair and maintenance of the nation’s public housing stock. Specifically, the bill includes:
- $23.8 billion for the Tenant-based Rental Assistance account to preserve affordable housing for 2.2 million low-income households as well as expands housing opportunities for youth aging out of foster care and veterans at risk of or experiencing homelessness;
- $7.5 billion to help preserve the nation’s public housing for the more than 1.1 million low-income households currently served through the program;
- $12.6 billion for the preservation of Project-based Section 8 assistance for more than 1.2 million low-income households;
- $696 million for the Housing for the Elderly program to continue rental assistance for approximately 127,000 low-income elderly households and renew grants for 1,500 service coordinators, as well as includes $10 million for new grants to modify or repair homes for low-income seniors; and,
- $184 million for the Housing for Persons with Disabilities program to renew assistance for more than 29,000 households served through the program.
Prevents and Ends Homelessness: The bill includes more than $2.8 billion to help communities design and implement local solutions to end homelessness, an overall increase of $125 million from fiscal year 2019 and an increase of $163 million from the President’s budget request. Of this amount, $2.761 billion is included for the Homeless Assistance Grant (HAG) program in order to fully meet the program’s renewal need, of which $280 million is for Emergency Solutions Grants. The bill also includes HAG funding to support:
- $80 million in targeted resources for youth to build on the $200 million previously provided since fiscal year 2017; and,
- $50 million for new rapid rehousing projects that serve victims and survivors of domestic violence, building on the $100 million provided since fiscal year 2018, which will also help communities implement emergency transfer plans required by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 2013.
The bill also rejects the President’s proposal to eliminate funding for new vouchers under the HUD-VASH program by including $40 million to support 5,100 new incremental rental vouchers for veterans experiencing homelessness, a critical resource for the nearly 38,000 veterans experiencing homelessness. This funding will build upon the more than $750 million in investments already made through this program since 2008.
Expands Affordable Housing and Community Development Opportunities: Overall, the bill provides $4.6 billion to expand affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans and spur economic opportunities for local communities. Specifically, the bill rejects the President’s proposal to eliminate the HOME program—the only federal program solely dedicated to affordable housing production and preservation—and instead provides $1.25 billion, consistent with the fiscal year 2019 enacted level. At a time when the nation’s affordable housing crisis is reaching unprecedented levels, leaving many low-income families severely rent burdened and putting them at a higher risk of experiencing homelessness, the HOME funding will serve as critical tool for financing new affordable housing opportunities, home rehabilitation, and new rental assistance for approximately 42,000 low-income families. It will also leverage an additional $9.8 billion in public and private investment.
The bill rejects the President’s proposal to eliminate the CDBG program, a critical funding source for state and local community and economic development, and includes $3.3 billion, equal to the fiscal year 2019 enacted level. This level of funding includes an additional $25 million for a pilot housing program that provides grants to states that are most impacted by the drug overdose epidemic to provide stable temporary housing for individuals recovering from substance use disorders, as authorized in Section 8071 of the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act.
Addresses Lead-Based Paint and Other Environmental Hazards: The bill provides a combined $330 million to address lead-based paint and other environmental hazards in low-income and HUD-assisted housing. Of this amount, $290 million is provided for the Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes, an increase of $11 million from fiscal year 2019. This includes up to $181 million for lead hazard reduction grants, of which no less than $100 million is reserved for communities with the highest lead-based paint abatement needs. It also includes $64 million for the High Impact Neighborhoods demonstration, which will examine the effectiveness of intensive multi-year investments in lead-based paint remediation activities in ten low-income communities, building on the $45 million provided in fiscal year 2019. This total funding level will support lead-based paint hazard reductions in up to 17,900 units, providing safer homes for over 66,600 low-income families and individuals, including more than 16,600 children under the age of six.
The bill also includes $40 million in the Public Housing Capital Fund for competitive grants to PHAs to perform environmental interventions for lead-based paint and other hazards, including mold, in public housing. Of this amount, $25 million will support lead-based paint hazard remediation in approximately 1,500 public housing units, equal to fiscal year 2019. The bill also addresses eligibility issues that have prevented certain PHAs from applying for or using prior year funds to address outstanding lead-related violations. This level of funding also includes $15 million in new investments to address other housing-related hazards in public housing, including mold, to allow PHAs to improve the overall environmental housing conditions for public housing residents.
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