Avoiding a government shutdown, Congress agrees to fund popular transportation programs

By Beth Osborne

On May 4, Congress passed a spending deal to fund the government through the end of the current fiscal year (FY2017) that ends on September 30, 2017.  In this agreement, Congress accommodated President Trump’s requests for more defense and security spending but maintained and even increased funding for many programs that the Administration had proposed to cut or eliminate.

And this ended up being good news for transportation projects around the country.

Transportation programs are funded at levels consistent with the authorized level in the FAST Act, with $43.266 billion for highways. Congress actually appropriated more for transit capital construction than was proposed by the FAST Act for this year ($2.4 billion vs. $2.3 billion). They also allocated the full $500 million for a ninth round of TIGER grants.

Despite the President’s previous request to immediately and completely halt the pipeline of transit construction projects, the bill urges the Federal Transit Administration to keep it moving. It dedicates funding to transit projects that already have grant agreements, as well as to projects expected to sign grant agreements this year, such as planned bus rapid transit projects in Albuquerque, Indianapolis, Everett (WA), and Kansas City, among many others.

Now that a May shutdown has been averted, Congress will begin work on the FY2018 spending bills. President Trump’s blueprint for the 2018 budget (AKA the “skinny budget”) was released a few weeks ago, and a more complete budget proposal is expected during the week of May 22.

More details on the recently passed bill can be found in the Appropriators Summary and the full text of the omnibus spending bill.

Beth Osborne is Senior Policy Advisor for SSTI.