Mixed news on transportation funding from Congress — not exactly a shocker, people

For masochistic readers following the tortuous path of transportation funding in Congress, here are a dynamic duo of legislative updates from Metro’s government relations staff.

The first is good news: the House of Representatives restored transportation funding in the budget for the second half of this fiscal year.

The second is not so good news: the House of Representatives is hacking away at transportation funding in a budget they’re preparing for the next fiscal year.

The updates:

House Adopts Six Month Stop Gap Spending Bill

This morning, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Senate-amended version of H.R. 933, a six month stop gap funding bill for the Federal Government for the balance of Federal Fiscal Year 2013.

The bill was adopted by a vote of 318 to 109. As was shared in yesterday’s Legislative Alert, the U.S. Senate passed this bill last night by a vote of 73 to 26. In a welcome development, the bill includes language that aligns the level of funding for federal transportation programs with the amounts authorized for those programs under the newly adopted surface transportation bill, MAP-21.

Under the previous stop gap funding bill that covered the first six months of Federal Fiscal Year 2013, Congress ignored MAP-21 funding levels and kept the funding for federal transportation programs at the lower level provided in Federal Fiscal Year 2012.

Initial estimates of this change in policy indicate that federal transportation programs will receive a boost of $385 million dollars of regular discretionary budget authority for the balance of Federal Fiscal Year 2013. This stop gap funding bill is subject to sequestration, which will cut funding across the board for a number of defense and domestic discretionary programs.

House Adopts Federal Fiscal Year 2014 Budget

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives adopted its Federal Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Resolution (H. Con. Res 25).

The vote was sharply partisan, with 221 votes in favor of the budget and 207 opposed. The budget, crafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) would limit discretionary funding to $414 billion, which is less than the amount authorized under the Budget Control Act of 2011.

With respect to defense spending, the Ryan Budget would provide $552 billion, which is a figure bolstered by a proposed transfer of funding drawn from additional cuts in domestic discretionary funding.

The Ryan Budget proposes to eliminate all federal funding for High Speed Rail in the United States. A summary of the transportation provisions in the Ryan Budget, as posted on the House Committee on Budget website reads: “The mechanisms of federal highway and transit spending have become distorted, leading to imprudent, irresponsible, and often downright wasteful spending. Further, however worthy some highway projects might be, their capacity as job creators has been vastly oversold, as demonstrated by the extravagant but unfulfilled promises that accompanied the 2009 stimulus bill, particularly with regard to high-speed rail.”

House and Senate Democrats, in concert with the White House, have and continue to sharply criticize the spending cuts proposed in the Ryan Budget. Please click here to view a summary of the Ryan Budget posted on the House Committee on Budget website. The U.S. Senate is expected to adopt their Federal Fiscal Year 2014 Budget later this week.