Continuing Resolution Puts Transportation Funds At Risk

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Congress will need to pass another continuing resolution (CR) before March 27 to keep the federal government funded. The House last week passed a continuing resolution which shorts transportation programs by more than $700 million. The House CR does not incorporate the carefully achieved consensus on transportation funding found in MAP-21.  These cuts from MAP-21 levels would amount to eliminating an additional $555 million for highways, $117 million for transit, and $48.5 million for highway safety.

H.R. 933, the House bill, essentially freezes all non-Defense government departments and agencies for Fiscal Year 2013 at their FY 2012 enacted levels.  To date, the existing six-month continuing resolution has been funding the government at a slightly higher annual rate, with most accounts receiving an increase of six-tenths of one percent.   The Clean Water Act State Revolving Loan Fund (SRF) program would remain at $1.46 billion in FY 2013 and the Safe Drinking Water SRF would remain at $918 million.

The bill provides funding authority for the last six months of FY 2013, through September 30, 2013, to allow all government agencies and programs to continue operating during that period, and it generally continues the authorities and conditions on such funding that were included in individual FY 2012 appropriations laws.  Departments and agencies would not be allowed to initiate or resume any project or activity that wasn’t funded or authorized for FY 2012.

Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said this week that she is “confident” that the Senate will change the continuing resolution so that it accounts for the increased spending levels provided in MAP-21, but House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman, Bill Shuster (R-PA), has stated that he did not think including the increased levels was worth potentially taking down the entire CR in the House.

Boxer and the leaders of the Senate committees that helped write MAP-21, Commerce Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), and Banking Chairman Tim Johnson (D-SD), wrote House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) on Tuesday to express their “strong disappointment” that the CR doesn’t boost transportation funding. The White House has also come out with a list of issues that the administration would like to see addressed, which includes the transportation changes.

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