The Senate has recently completed action on the FY 2006 Transportation Appropriations bill (H.R. 3058). The bill establishes a federal-aid highway obligation level at $40.19 billion, an increase of nearly $4 billion over the amount authorized by SAFETEA-LU and the amount provided by the House. The following table compares the amounts provided for major transportation accounts in SAFETEA-LU, and House and Senate appropriations bills.
Federal-Aid Highways ($40.2 B)
Transit ($8.2 B)
Airport Improve. Program ($3.5 B)
Amtrak ($1.45 B)
Federal-Aid Highways ($36.0 B)
Transit ($8.6 B)
Federal-Aid Highways ($36.3 B)
Transit ($8.48 B)
Airport Improve. Program ($3.6 B)
Amtrak ($1.18 B)
The House passed its version of the bill on June 30. Since Congress did not enact the FY 2006 Transportation Appropriations measure prior to the start of the fiscal year on October 1, transportation programs are operating under FY 2005 levels through November 18 or until this year's bill is signed into law. As a result, the federal-aid highway and transit programs are currently operating at levels that are $1.6 billion and $1 billion, respectively, less than the increases provided by SAFETEA-LU.
The Administration threatened to veto the spending measure if it exceeded the amounts authorized in SAFETEA-LU or if increased funding for Amtrak is not accompanied by reforms.
House and Senate conferees will be appointed soon to begin working out the differences in the two measures.
To prevent further delays in the increases highway and transit spending provided by SAFETEA-LU, as well as to aviation funding, AGC will continue to push for speedy passage of a final FY 2006 Transportation spending measure and ensure that it contains the highest funding levels possible for these programs.
In a related matter, the House leadership has also been considering an across-the-board cut in all domestic discretionary funding categories of as much as 2%. Transportation programs would be included in these cuts. An agreement could not be reached this week on the cuts but could be taken up following the passage of all appropriations bills for the year. AGC has been urging that infrastructure programs should not be subject to these cuts and in particular programs funded through a dedicated revenue source should not be included.