Infrastructure & Science Funding Bills Move Through House Committees

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The House Appropriations Committee was hard at work addressing infrastructure and science education this week, which is perfect timing after last week’s nation-wide Infrastructure Week push. The committee passed bills to set aside funding for a number of infrastructure categories including water, energy, and national parks, while the House Appropriations Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee set aside funding for transportation and aviation grants and programs. Additionally, the committee invested in science related agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Budgets for Energy, Environment, & Science Pass Committee

The House Appropriations Committee passed the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 appropriations bills on Interior & Environment, Energy & Water Development, and the Commerce and Justice Department which includes science related agencies.

The Interior & Environment appropriations bill contains $37.28 billion in funding, $657 million of this addresses the National Park Service deferred maintenance backlog while $1.81 billion is set aside for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and $1.3 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.

The Energy & Water Development appropriations bill contains $46.4 billion in funding which includes $7.63 billion for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. ASCE is glad to see proposed investment in these areas, but this is less than ASCE’s recommended appropriations amounts.

Finally, the FY2020 Bill for the Commerce and Justice Department funds NSF at $8.64 billion, which is $561 million above its current budget and above the $7.1 billion requested by the Trump Administration. The bill also funds NIST with $1.04 billion. ASCE is glad to see each of these programs funded slightly above the Society’s suggested appropriations amounts.

House Transportation Funding Bill Sent to Full Committee

The House Appropriations Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee also took up infrastructure this week by approving a transportation spending bill for FY 2020. The bill provides $86.6 billion in resources for the U.S. Department of Transportation. Notably, this includes $1 billion for BUILD grants and $2.3 billion for Capital Investment Grants, as well as an increase of $294 million for core FAST Act programs, and $500 million in supplemental funding for the Airport Improvement Program. The bill is now awaiting approval of the full committee. Similar to the other infrastructure investments made by the full committee this week, this bill allocates less funding than ASCE recommends. The bill also includes language for protecting the CAFE Standards, which were implemented by the Obama Administration and regulate how far the vehicles we drive each day must travel on one gallon of fuel.

ASCE is glad to see the House Appropriations Committee and its subcommittees address infrastructure and science research. However, with our national infrastructure systems earning a “D+,” it’s time for to return our infrastructure to the world-class status it once had. ASCE has provided a list of recommended appropriations amounts and the Society hopes to see this taken into consideration in the future. Our infrastructure needs are great and after a generation of under investment, it’s time the federal government to step up. Stay tuned for an update on how infrastructure will fare in the Appropriations process.

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