Key Senate Panel Approves Spending Increases for Roads, Bridges, and Rail; Full Senate Approves New Transportation Secretary
WASHINGTON, D.C. – July 1, 2013 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Senator Jack Reed today announced that the Senate Appropriations Committee voted 22 to 8 to approve the 2014 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. The $107.5 billion Appropriations bill would boost funds for bridges, highways, and rail and fund community development and affordable housing projects.
Reed, a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies, helped secure a three percent increase in funding above the fiscal year 2013 level.
“This bipartisan legislation makes smart investments to help strengthen our nation’s transportation infrastructure and increase affordable housing opportunities for families,” said Reed, who noted that Rhode Island will continue to receive roughly $3 in federal funding for every dollar paid in federal gas taxes. “Modernizing our transportation infrastructure is critical to growing Rhode Island’s economy and improving mobility and safety. This Appropriations bill will help save and create jobs and provide long-term economic benefits by upgrading our highways, roads, bridges, and mass transit. The House Appropriations bill, in stark contrast, would cut jobs and hold our economy back.”
The bipartisan Senate transportation and housing spending bill allocates $10 billion more in spending than the House version of the bill, which Democrats and Republicans alike have criticized for gutting key programs. Reed helped include $3.15 billion for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, compared to $1.6 billion in the House version of the bill.
The Senate legislation also includes $550 million for the competitive TIGER grant program, a 10 percent increase from fiscal year 2013, to support a wide variety of transportation projects, including highways and bridges, public transportation, passenger and freight railroads, and port infrastructure. Over the last five years, Rhode Island has received three TIGER grants totaling $42.8 million, including grants to replace the Providence Viaduct, as well as investments at the Port of Davisville and the Port of Providence. The House version of the bill would not only eliminate next year’s TIGER funding, but would pull back $237 million already approved.
Additionally, the Senate transportation appropriations bill creates a new $500 million competitive grant program to help replace crumbling bridges on major roadways.
The bill also includes critical funds to help states, cities, and local communities reduce poverty, make housing more affordable, and upgrade infrastructure, including: $19.6 billion for the Section 8 tenant-based rental assistance program for low income families; $2.26 billion for homeless assistance grants, $232 million above fiscal year 2013 level, and $2 billion for the public housing capital fund.
The bill also includes:
• $40.3 billion for the annual Federal-aid Highway program
• $1.75 billion for rail infrastructure, including $1.45 billion for Amtrak
• $3.35 billion for capital investments at airports across the country
• $1 billion for the HOME Investment Partnerships program
• $250 million for HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative
• $75 million within HUD’s Community Development Fund for the Integrated Planning and Investment Grants
Now that the Senate Appropriations Committee has cleared the bill, it must be approved by the full Senate.
Yesterday, the full Senate voted unanimously to confirm Anthony Foxx as the new U.S. Secretary of Transportation. The former mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, Secretary of Foxx replaces Ray LaHood as the nation’s top federal transportation official.
“I am pleased Secretary Foxx was unanimously approved by the full Senate. I look forward to working with him to improve our transportation system and put more Rhode Islanders to work strengthening our infrastructure. Rhode Island’s transportation network helps fuel economic growth. I also salute outgoing Secretary LaHood for his bipartisan leadership and commitment to investing in Rhode Island’s airports, roads, bridges, railways, and ports.”