The House completed action last night on the fiscal year (FY) 2008 Transportation-HUD funding bill. The bill funds the highway program at $40.2 billion, the full amount guaranteed by SAFETEA-LU. This is a $1.1 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 $9.7 billion is included, a $700 million increase over FY 2007. The Airport Improvement Program is funded at $3.6 billion, an increase over this year's $3.516 billion funding level.
Numerous floor amendments were offered to cut funding for Amtrak and to eliminate numerous earmarks for funding of specific projects, but all were defeated. Ranking Committee member John Mica (R-Fla.) offered an amendment to strike a $3 billion rescission of highway contracting authority from the amounts included in SAFETEA-LU. While eliminating contract authority does not result in an actual cut in highway spending, it does eliminate the potential for funding in the future and does restrict state DOT flexibility to move available funding between various funding categories. The Mica amendment was defeated.
The White House has issued a veto threat because the funding levels in the bill exceed the President's budget request, objecting in particular to highway and Amtrak spending. The President's budget requested that the $631 million in RABA funds not be provided. The Office of Management and Budget'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 SAFETEA-LU. The Senate committee-passed bill has similar funding levels, including the RABA funding. The Senate is not expected to consider that bill until after the August recess.
The Associated General Contractors of America joined with the Transportation Construction Coalition and Americans for Transportation Mobility in contacting the full House and urging that the transportation programs be fully funded at the SAFETEA-LU authorized levels.