House passes second spending bill for fiscal 2011

The House of Representatives passed the second fiscal 2011spending bill on July 29, mostly along party lines, according to a National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) Washington Watch & eDigest report.

With a vote of 251-167, legislators went ahead with H.R. 5850, a $67.7 billion measure to fund transportation, and housing and urban development initiatives, according to the report.

The chart below from NSSGA shows each chamber’s specific investment proposals regarding transportation spending:

FY 2010

FY 2011 House

FY 2011 Senate

Highway Funding

$41.1 billion

$45.2 billion

$41.9 billion

Transit Funding

$10.7 billion

$11.3 billion

$10.6 billion

Airport Construction

$3.5 billion

$3.5 billion

$3.5 billion

The bill provides $45.2 billion for highway infrastructure, $4.1 billion (or 10 percent) above fiscal 2010 levels and $3.9 billion above the request to improve and repair the nation’s aging highway infrastructure, according to the NSSGA report.

Also included is $11.3 billion to public transportation, $500 million above last year’s funding and $575 million above the president’s request, to support bus and rail projects, including capital expenditures, according to the report.

The measure also provides $1.4 billion for the passenger rail grant program, $400 million above the White House’s request, to expand and improve intercity passenger rail and develop a national high speed rail system, and $3.5 billion for airport construction, according to the report.

The bill would also fully fund the Obama Administration’s “livability initiative” by creating a new grant program to support activities that link transportation and land use. The program is funded by providing $500 million from the Highway Trust Fund ($300 million from the transit account and $200 million from the highway account).

An additional $400 million is allocated in the bill for discretionary grants for nationally significant intermodal projects.

In a move late on July 29, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.) and Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) successfully amended the bill to require separate congressional authorization of the “livability initiative” before funds for the highway component of the proposal could be utilized, according to the NSSGA report.