Over the Dec. 15 weekend, House and Senate negotiators agreed on an omnibus appropriations bill to fund government programs through the end of FY 2008. While the intent was to craft a bill that President Bush will sign, the White House has not yet indicated its position on the agreement. Democrats had proposed total spending $23 billion more than President Bush requested to be included in the remaining 11 FY 2008 spending bills. They had hoped throughout the year that a compromise could be reached but the president remained firm. The approved compromise brings the overall funding amount generally into alignment with the President although some spending priorities remain at odds.
Funding for the Department of Transportation was included in the agreement. The bill funds the highway program at $41.2 billion, which includes the full amount guaranteed by SAFETEA-LU, plus an additional $1 billion in bridge funding that the Senate had included in its version of the appropriations bill. This is a $2.1 billion increase over FY 2007 and includes $631 million in Revenue Aligned Budget Authority (RABA) funds which result from an adjustment in the authorized funding level to reflect actual Highway Trust Fund receipts. The agreement decreases transit funding from its authorized level of $9.65 billion to $9.49.
The bill includes $3.5 billion for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) virtually the same amount as FY 2007. The bill also extends the federal excise taxes on aviation thought February 29, 2008 to allow Congress time to continue its deliberations on reauthorization of FAA programs.
While the omnibus bill comports with the President's overall budget figures there are differences in the allocation of those funds, including in transportation. The President's budget requested that the $631 million in RABA funds not be provided and the White House also objected to the extra $1 billion in bridge funding. The President also recommended AIP funding of $765 million below the approved level. The President previously had threatened to veto the transportation appropriations bill over these issues.