Infrastructure Spending Bills Moves Through the Senate

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This week, the U.S. Senate passed their second Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 “minibus” spending package by a vote of 92-6. This legislation combined the following appropriations bill: Interior & Environment (S. 3073); Financial Services (S. 3107); Transportation, Housing & Urban Development (THUD)(S. 3023); and Agriculture & Federal Drug Administration (S. 2976).

The House passed a smaller version of this minibus – including just the Interior & Environment and Financial Services appropriations bills – last month. This included the Financial Services and Interior-Environment titles already passed in the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 6147) as well as the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) (S.3023) and Agriculture (S.2976) titles.

FY19 spending under the Senate THUD title totals to $71.4 billion, $1.1 billion above FY18 enacted level, and includes $26.6 billion for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), $800 million below FY18 enacted level, in discretionary funding. $45.3 billion from the Highway Trust Fund will go towards Federal-aid Highways Program, and $3.3 billion from the general fund will be directed towards highways, which has remained constant with FY18 enacted spending. The legislation provides $1 billion to BUILD (formerly TIGER) grants ,which is $500 million below FY18 enacted level; $750 million in supplemental funding to the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) or $250 million below FY18 enacted level; and $2.55 billion in Capital Investment Grants (CIG), which is $50 million less than FY18 enacted level. It is expected that the House will take up its THUD appropriations title when they return from the August recess.

The Senate’s FY19 Interior & Environment $35.8 billion appropriations bill is equal to the FY18 enacted level, an increase of $600 million compared to the House version, and contains $8 billion for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is on par with the FY18 enacted level. The bill includes $63 million for the Water Infrastructure Finance & Innovation Act (WIFIA), while the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs receive $2.86 billion, both of which are nearly equal to the FY18 enacted level.

The first FY19 appropriations “minibus” to pass both chamber of Congress (Energy & Water Development; Legislative Branch; and Military Construction & Veterans Affairs appropriations bills) now awaits action by a congressional conference committee to hash out the differences between the bills. Last week, ASCE sent a letter to the conference committee outlining our infrastructure funding priorities. The conference committee announced that they are delaying their initial meeting until the House returns from recess in September; once they are back in session, the House will have just 11 legislative days to pass and conference all 12 appropriations bills before the government runs out of funding on September 30.

As infrastructure spending bills continues to move through Congress, ASCE’s government relations team will stay actively engaged and keep you apprised of the latest developments.

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