On Sept. 21, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved FY 2012 funding for the highway and transit programs at the same level as FY 2011, which is just over $41 billion. In addition, the bill provides an additional $1.9 billion in emergency relief funding and $550 million for the TIGER discretionary grants program, as well as $100 million for high-speed rail.
These funding levels contrast significantly from the bill approved earlier by the House transportation appropriations subcommittee, which set funding levels at far lower levels. Those funding levels, which includes $27 billion for federal highways, adhere to the principles set earlier this year in a budget resolution passed in the House which directed that highway and transit funding be set at levels that are supported by Highway Trust Fund revenue.
The full House Appropriations Committee has not yet acted on the measure. It is unclear if action will be completed on this legislation before Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year. If not the highway and transit appropriations may be included in a continuing resolution. A CR will be necessary because Congress has not yet passed any of the 12 appropriations bills necessary to fund the government.
Last week, Congress passed a six-month extension of the authorization for these programs at current funding levels. The appropriations bill is needed to provide the cash necessary to meet the authorized funding levels contained in the extension.