House budget slashes US transportation spending

While the Republicans’ $17.8bn plan for the 2018 fiscal year cuts spending by $646m, it is still $1.5bn higher than President Trump’s proposal.

A funding bill released by the US House Appropriations Committee would see transportation department spending cut by $646 million for 2018 from current levels.

With $17.8 billion in discretionary spending, the plan is $1.5 billion above the proposal released in May by President Donald Trump. The latter plan, however, came alongside a proposal to add $200 billion in infrastructure spending over the next decade, with the aim of spurring $1 trillion in total infrastructure investment.

Like Trump’s plan, the House bill would see the current year’s $500 million in funding for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants zeroed out. Capital Investment Grants were also cut from around $2.4 billion in 2017 to just over $1.75 billion, also higher than the administration’s $1.2 billion proposal.

The House bill will add roughly $150 million to the Federal Aviation Administration’s budget, while the Federal Railroad Administration will add $360 million. The Federal Transit Administration will see $622 million cut from 2017 levels.

“This bill makes investments in essential highway, air, rail and maritime programmes that will keep our people and our goods moving efficiently,” said Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen, chair of the Republican-led Appropriations Committee.

The House proposal comes amid a renewed focus on infrastructure, with both Trump and Congressional Democrats calling for increased spending. But, while the administration has focused on leveraging federal spending to boost state, local and private sector investment, Democrats have called for greater direct federal spending.

“The majority’s transportation funding proposal falls far short of what is needed,” said Congresswoman Nita Lowey, the committee’s ranking member. Lowey said the cuts to TIGER and CIG grants “represent a failure to maintain infrastructure that, in some cases, is crumbling before our eyes”.