House and Senate conferees met Nov. 8 and approved a compromise appropriations bill to fund Department of Transportation programs in FY 2008. The bill funds the highway program at $41.2 billion, 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 bill in response to the Minneapolis bridge collapse. 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. Transit funding of $9.65 billion is included, a $750 million increase over FY 2007 and the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) is funded at $3.5 billion, just slightly less than the $3.516 billion 2007 funding level.
The House and the Senate must both approve the conference report.
The White House has issued a veto threat because the funding levels in the bill exceed the President's budget request. The President's budget requested that the $631 million in RABA funds not be provided. OMB's statement said it "strongly objects" to the fact that the bill allows extra funding for the federal-aid highway program by providing the full amount "guaranteed" by SAFETAE-LU. The White House also objects to the extra $1 billion in bridge funding and AIP funding above the recommended amount. This appropriations bill also includes funding for federal housing programs at funding levels the White House also opposes.
AGC and their transportation allies are working in the House to get a veto proof majority to support the conference report.