Week ending September 8, 2017
H.R.3353 – Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2018
From the Congressional Research Service: (with some modifications)
Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2018
Provides FY2018 appropriations to the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and several related agencies.
Department of Transportation Appropriations Act, 2018
Provides appropriations to DOT for:
the Office of the Secretary,
the Federal Aviation Administration,
the Federal Highway Administration,
the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration,
the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,
the Federal Railroad Administration,
the Federal Transit Administration,
the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation,
the Maritime Administration,
the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, and
the Office of Inspector General.
Department of Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act, 2018
Provides appropriations to HUD for:
Management and Administration,
Program Office Salaries and Expenses,
Public and Indian Housing,
Community Planning and Development,
the Federal Housing Administration,
the Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae),
Policy Development and Research,
Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity,
the Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes,
the Information Technology Fund, and
the Office of Inspector General.
Provides appropriations to related agencies, including:
the Access Board,
the Federal Maritime Commission,
the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) Office of Inspector General,
the National Transportation Safety Board,
the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation,
the Surface Transportation Board, and
the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.
Rescinds specified unobligated balances from prior appropriations. Sets forth permissible and prohibited uses for funds provided by this and other appropriations Acts.
From the bill report:
GENERAL PROVISIONS–DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Section 180 provides authorization for DOT to maintain and operate aircraft, hire passenger motor vehicles and aircraft, purchase liability insurance, buy uniforms, or allowances therefor.
Section 181 limits appropriations for services authorized by 5 U.S.C. 3109 to the rate permitted for an Executive Level IV.
Section 182 prohibits recipients of funds in this Act from disseminating personal information obtained by state DMVs in connection to motor vehicle records with an exception.
Section 183 stipulates that revenue collected by FHWA and FRA from States, counties, municipalities, other public authorities, and private sources for training be transferred into specific accounts within the agency with an exception.
Section 184 prohibits DOT from using funds for grants of $500,000 or more from any mode at DOT, unless DOT gives a 3-day advance notice to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations. Also requires notice of any “quick release” of funds from FHWA’s emergency relief program, and prohibits notifications from involving funds not available for obligation. Requires DOT to provide a comprehensive list of all loans, loan guarantees, lines of credit, and discretionary grants that will be announced with a 3-day advance notice to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations.
Section 185 allows funds received from rebates, refunds, and similar sources to be credited to appropriations of DOT.
Section 186 allows amounts from improper payments to a third party contractor that are lawfully recovered by DOT to be made available to cover expenses incurred in recovery of such payments.
Section 187 requires that reprogramming actions have to be approved or denied by the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations, and reprogramming notifications shall be transmitted solely to the Appropriations Committees.
Section 188 allows funds appropriated to modal administrations to be obligated for the Office of the Secretary for costs related to assessments only when such funds provide a direct benefit to that modal administration.
Section 189 authorizes the Secretary to carry out a program that establishes uniform standards for developing and supporting agency transit pass and transit benefits, including distribution of transit benefits.
Section 190 prohibits the use of funds to implement any geographic, economic, or other hiring preference not otherwise authorized by law, unless certain requirements are met related to availability of local labor, displacement of existing employees, and delays in transportation plans.
(Full text of H.R. 3353 at congress.gov)
Sponsor: Rep. Diaz-Balart, Mario [R-FL-25] (Introduced 07/21/2017)
VOTES and FLOOR ACTION
Motion to recommit:
Text of the motion:
COST AND IMPACT
Cost to the taxpayers: Data not available
Pay-as-you-go requirements: Data not available
Regulatory and Other Impact: Data not available
Dynamic Scoring: Data not available
Tax Complexity: Not applicable to this bill.
Earmark Certification: Data not available
Duplication of programs: Data not available
Direct Rule-Making: Data not available
Advisory Committee Statement: Data not available
Budget Authority: Data not available
Constitutional Authority: Assumed.
MINORITY VIEWS OF NITA M. LOWEY AND DAVID E. PRICE
The impact of the Republican majority’s self-imposed austerity is on full display in the Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations bill for the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies (T-HUD).
This year’s bill includes $56.5 billion for critical transportation, housing, and community development programs–a $1.1 billion reduction compared to current levels. This year’s T-HUD allocation is insufficient to address our nation’s housing and infrastructure challenges. Where boldness and leadership are required, this bill offers timidity and the status quo.
In each of our districts, we have examples of damaged roads, structurally deficient bridges, and aging transportation systems. We have a shortage of affordable housing and aging public housing properties in need of repair. Robust investments in infrastructure and community development would address these shortfalls and put people to work, improve safety and boost economic growth. The American Society of Civil Engineers’ most recent report gave U.S. infrastructure a D+ grade and identified a $2 trillion investment gap over the next decade.
Our infrastructure continues to deteriorate at an alarming rate, causing congestion on our roads, delays at our airports, and bottlenecks at our ports. Throughout the campaign and in his first days in office, the President assured Americans that infrastructure was a priority for his administration. Yet, the President and his Republican Congress, in an appropriations bill that should robustly fund the modernization of our infrastructure, advanced a hollow shell that puts us even further behind in modernizing American transport.
This bill eliminates the successful and popular TIGER grants program and drastically cuts Capital Investment Grants when there is a crisis on the rails for commuters and train travelers in the New York metro area and around the country. If the Republican majority continues to neglect infrastructure that is crumbling before our very eyes, it will only get more expensive to address in the future and will become more dangerous for all Americans.
We are in the midst of a housing crisis. Millions of Americans struggle to pay rent as wages fail to rise as quickly as housing costs. Yet, Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and the HOME program, both lauded by local elected officials around the country for their flexibility and effectiveness, are each cut by $100 million. The Public Housing Capital Fund, Lead Hazard Control, and the Section 4 Capacity Building Program utilized by Habitat for Humanity and other nonprofits to expand their reach are all cut. Some estimates suggest that the funding levels in this bill could result in the loss of more than 140,000 housing vouchers. This would have a horrible impact on low-income families, putting them at immediate risk of eviction and, in the worst cases, homelessness.
During full committee consideration of the bill, Democrats offered amendments to improve the bill and invest in America’s infrastructure and working families. Republicans defeated each of these amendments on a party-line vote.
Mr. Price offered a comprehensive amendment that would invest $200 billion in America’s highways, rail, transit, and housing infrastructure. It would have provided funding to repair aging bridges, repair our roads, and to modernize our airports and our airspace. Rather than confront the infrastructure challenges head-on, Republicans defeated the amendment.
Republicans also rejected amendments from Mrs. Lowey that would have removed more lead hazards from homes and made commuter railroads safer as well as other Democratic amendments to increase CDBG and HOME, bolster our public housing stock, protect vulnerable populations, advance homelessness prevention efforts, and invest in more transit. We look forward to addressing these shortcomings as the process moves forward.
The bill also contains several controversial policy riders that unnecessarily attack high speed rail, roll back transportation safety protections for the traveling public, and harm labor rights. Many of these issues were considered and rejected during consideration of the FY 2017 omnibus negotiations. Mr. Price offered an amendment to strip these riders at Full Committee markup, which the majority rejected.
In recent years, this bill has become a Court of Appeals for the trucking industry, re-litigating issues in the Appropriations Committee rather than addressing them through the authorizing process. We strongly object to including these riders in the bill.
The Chairman was dealt a very difficult hand with an inadequate allocation, but he deserves recognition for some key investments. The T-HUD bill sustains basic safety activities at DOT and provides funding increases to Housing for the Elderly and Housing for Persons with Disabilities. We also want to thank the Chairman for including $20 million for the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative. Funding this program nominally in the base bill will give us a chance to improve this number as the process moves forward, even though President Trump suggested eliminating the program.
While the bill includes language to ensure FTA continues to rate and review projects in the grant pipeline, this lower funding level threatens the progress and viability of major transit projects around the country.
The bill reflects the strong bipartisan consensus within the Appropriations Committee that we must continue providing the resources necessary to strengthen and modernize the air traffic control system. The Federal Aviation Administration received a $153 million increase over last year and a $434 million increase over the President’s request. This consensus is sorely lacking on the authorizing committee where Republicans advanced a partisan and controversial plan that, if implemented, would jeopardize NextGen’s progress and hand over billions of dollars in federal assets and control of the skies to private industry.
In its current form, the bill represents a step in the wrong direction. However, we remain hopeful that a new bipartisan budget deal will be reached that makes it possible to revise this legislation to garner bipartisan support. We look forward to working with the Chairman toward this end in the months ahead.
As the legislative process continues, we will do our best to address the concerns described here. Without a larger discussion of the Federal budget, it will be nearly impossible to pass a Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill for FY 2018 into law. The inadequacy of this bill’s allocation can only be fixed if Democrats and Republicans negotiate new caps for spending that do not slash the investments needed in this bill and others to support working families and grow the economy. Unfortunately, to date, Republicans are choosing to close ranks around a partisan effort to cut programs depended on by millions of Americans even though they know it will lead to another forced crisis to keep the government open. Democrats stand ready to work with Republicans on appropriations bills that invest in the American people.
We all know that Democratic votes will be needed to reach a spending agreement that can be enacted, When Republicans get serious about that, we will be ready and willing to work with our colleagues to make sure this bill better funds initiatives that Americans rely on to pursue the American dream.
Nita M. Lowey.
David E. Price.
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