President Obama hopes using Peace Dividend will sweeten repeat transportation budget request

Feb. 14, 2012

President Barack Obama’s FY 2013 budget request for the U.S. DOT rehashes last year’s request, which was never given consideration in Congress.


President Barack Obama’s FY 2013 budget request for the U.S. DOT rehashes last year’s request, which was never given consideration in Congress.

The President renewed his request for $50 billion in the current fiscal year to provide a targeted economic boost and to jump-start job creation this year. In addition, the Administration used the budget request to again propose ideas for a long-term legislation to reauthorize the surface transportation programs. The timing of the proposal took away much of its relevance because both the House and Senate are already considering their own versions of transportation reauthorization. 

The Administration proposes a six-year authorization totaling $476 billion. This compares to the Senate’s two-year bill totaling $109 billion and the House’s five-year bill totaling $260 billion. The Administration proposes to use the “Peace Dividend” resulting from reduced military spending as a result of the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and Obama’s plan to bring home American forces in Afghanistan to make up the $231 billion gap between what Highway Trust Fund gas-tax revenue provides and the proposed spending.

For FY 2013 the request is as follows:

Highway Program—Obligation limitation of $41.830 billion, an increase of $2.7 billion over FY 2012 but actually less than the $42.227 proposed by the bill currently on the Senate floor (which is set at FY 2011 funding levels).

Transit Program—A total of $10.836 billion, an increase of $233 million over FY 2012. Included in that amount is $2.235 billion for the new starts and small starts programs—an increase of $280 million from FY 2012.

Rail program—A total of $2.698 billion would go to two newly proposed accounts: Network Development and System Preservation. The proposal would merge both Amtrak subsidy accounts with the High Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail accounts.

Aviation Program—A total of $3.35 billion is requested for the Airport Improvement Program.

As expected, House Transportation & Infrastructure Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) was critical of Obama’s budget request, and stressed the federal government must spend within its means.

“The President needs to get behind the Republican transportation bill that accomplishes more with less through significant reforms including cutting in half the time it takes to complete major infrastructure projects,” he said.

“Rather than emphasize more deficit spending, from whatever source, the President’s focus should change to making transportation programs and projects more efficient and cutting the red tape that has left even his transportation stimulus money still stuck in federal coffers.”

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