The U.S. Senate has passed a $154.2 billion FY 2019 appropriations bill (H.R. 6147), or a “minibus,” by a wide margin with funding for four federal departments, including the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of the Interior, National Park Service, and Historic Preservation Infrastructure Fund.
The spending bill, which passed solidly by a vote of 92-6, includes $16.1 billion for public transit with $2.5 billion of that dedicated to intercity passenger rail grants that will fund transportation centers and related facilities. In addition, the bill includes funding for grants for historic preservation and the repair and renovation of thousands of structures in the National Park system.
H.R. 6147 also includes $8.1 billion in funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is $2.7 billion more than the amount cited in the Trump Administration’s FY 2019 budget proposal.
SMACNA and a coalition of infrastructure advocates have been urging Congress to move the transportation and National Park infrastructure funding package forward to address emergency repairs to the vast collection of structures and facilities that had been previously assessed as deteriorating.
Should the President sign H.R. 6147 (H. Rept. 115-765) many state and local transportation projects would receive some sort of funding. This important injection of federal funds would remove some of the uncertainty in state and local budgets strained by heavy bond financing efforts used to boost their already lean infrastructure repair accounts.
Importantly, President Trump still has to approve the minibus for it to officially pass through. The White House had expressed concerns with the legislation in the days leading up to a vote because the minibus is nearly $38 billion over the Administration’s FY 2019 budget request.
The White House statement specifically called out the EPA funding as well as the DOT grant funding, saying the programs gave too many projects in states and regions that have the financial ability to pay for their own program costs.
If approved, the transportation funding would make a partial down payment on the nation’s $90 billion municipal transportation infrastructure backlog that has been identified by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The Senate remained in session during their usual annual August break to pass as many appropriations packages as possible in an effort to reduce the impact of a possible government shutdown on September 30.
SMACNA members can support this and other important legislation by contacting their members of Congress through SMACNA’s Take Action web page.