Legislative Activity

House Appropriations Committee to Markup THUD Bill

The House Appropriations Committee will mark up its FY 2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Appropriations Act on Tuesday, May 24, after an uneventful Subcommittee markup last week. This comes on the heels of the Senate passing its THUD Appropriations bill last week by a vote of 89 to 8.

The House THUD bill provides $450 million for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program, $75 million less than the $525 million included in the Senate bill and $50 million less than the $500 million appropriated for FY 2016. The House bill provides $2.5 billion for Capital Investment Grants (CIG), $162 million more than the Senate bill, which provides $2.338 billion for CIG. The House bill also includes a general provision restricting any new Full Funding Grant Agreements (FFGAs) under the CIG program with a federal cost share greater than 50 percent – lower than the FAST Act’s 60 percent New Starts share and 80 percent federal share for fixed guideway projects.

Both the House and Senate bills follow the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act’s treatment of Amtrak funding that splits funding into two accounts, one covering the Northeast Corridor and the other covering the rest of the National Network. Both bills also provide $1.42 billion for Amtrak grants, though the House bill favors the Northeast Corridor while the Senate bill favors the National Network.

Like the Senate bill, the House bill honors the FAST Act’s obligation limitations on Highway Trust Fund (HTF) contract authority at the same levels as authorized in the FAST Act. As a reminder, the FAST Act’s HTF authorizations are not subject to the Budget Control Act spending caps, also known as sequestration.

Both the House and Senate THUD bills provide $150 million for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). Recently, WMATA has faced significant pressure from Congress and the Department of Transportation to improve the safety and reliability of its rail service after a number of electrical fires in train tunnels (including a fatal incident in January 2015), and WMATA General Manager and CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld fired 20 managers last week citing the need to improve effectiveness and accountability. As we mentioned two weeks ago, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Highways and Transit Subcommittee is scheduled to hold a hearing on May 24 titled “Improving the Safety and Reliability of the Washington Metro.”

House T&I Committee Expected to Markup WRDA Bill

While it has not been formally scheduled, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is expected to markup the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016 on Wednesday, May 25. The Committee released a bipartisan draft of the WRDA bill last week. The draft bill authorizes $5 billion in funding for Army Corps of Engineer’s activities, which is offset by deauthorizing $5 billion in previously authorized projects. The draft bill can be accessed here and a summary here.

Regulatory Activity

DOT Receives $9.8 Billion in FASTLANE Grant Applications

The Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx, said the Department of Transportation (DOT) received 212 grant applications totaling nearly $9.8 billion in funding from the Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) grant program. The FAST Act provided $800 million for grants through the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects (NSFHP) program, which DOT has renamed the FASTLANE grant program.

The deadline to submit applications was April 14, 2016, and the 212 applications include 136 urban projects and 76 rural projects. We expect DOT to announce the grant awards over the summer or in the fall prior to the November election.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • Tuesday, May 24: The House Appropriations Committee will hold a markup of the FY 2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.
  • Tuesday, May 24: The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Highways and Transit Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled “Improving the Safety and Reliability of the Washington Metro.”
  • Tuesday, May 24: The House Natural Resources Committee Federal Lands Subcommittee will hold a legislative hearing on “Expanding Federal Property and Source Study,” including:
    • R.3480, the “Fort Frederica National Monument Boundary Expansion Act of 2015”;
    • R.4202, the “Fort Ontario Study Act”;
    • R.4789, to authorize the Interior secretary to establish a structure for visitor services on the Arlington Ridge tract, in the area of the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial; and
    • R.5244, to provide for the establishment of a national memorial and national monument to commemorate those killed by the collapse of the Saint Francis Dam on March 12.
  • Wednesday, May 25: The House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing titled “Long Lines, Short Patience: The TSA Airport Screening Experience.”
  • Thursday, May 26: The House Homeland Security Committee Transportation Security Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled “Long Lines, Short Patience: Local Perspectives.”