House of Reps changes transpo funding rule

With Congress looking at ways to cut federal spending, it’s not surprising that one focus has been to cut back on transportation spending, as we posted last week. The House went ahead yesterday and did, in fact, approve a rule that could lead to cuts. It remains to be seen what the practical effect actually is because it’s kind of hard to believe members of Congress are suddenly going to stop trying to bring home the federal bacon to their districts.

Here’s the news from Metro CEO Art Leahy’s daily email to staff:

The U.S. House of Representatives voted today, by a margin of 240-191, to eliminate the current rule (House Rule XXI) that makes it a violation of House rules to fund highway, transit and safety programs at levels below the authorized level. The vote, which was conducted along party lines, also included a number of other rules changes designed to promote the policy priorities of the incoming Republican majority. As previously shared in the Daily Brief, a coalition of business, labor and transportation stakeholders, including our agency, had contacted House Republican leaders objecting to the elimination of House Rule XXI, which could have a dramatic impact on highway and transit projects that depend on a consistent flow of federal dollars. A letter, which was co-authored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Laborers International Union of North America, and the American Public Transportation Association, among others, warned that the elimination of House Rule 21 “would hurt investment in transportation infrastructure, reduce jobs, and break faith with the American taxpayer.” Our agency reached out directly to Congressional offices to express our concerns regarding this proposed change with respect to federal funding for transportation projects. Proponents of the rules change argued that the rules change was needed because Congressional spending on transportation consistently exceeds the amount of funds being deposited in the federal Highway Trust Fund. Over the past six years, Congress has moved $34.5 billion from the general fund to the Highway Trust Fund to cover the expenses of our nation’s surface transportation program.

2 replies