T4America Blog

News, press releases and other updates

House making final decisions on cuts to TIGER, transit construction & rail this week

With the current federal transportation budget expiring at the end of this month, this week the House is considering a handful of amendments and taking a final vote on the 2018 fiscal year budget. Up for debate are amendments that could improve — or further damage — the House’s already problematic transportation budget for 2018.

With the September 30th deadline rapidly approaching, appropriations committees in both the House and Senate have been debating and setting funding levels for transportation programs for next year, including the discretionary programs that the Trump administration has targeted for cuts (i.e., those not funded by the Highway Trust Fund.)

While the Senate largely rejected the Trump administration’s request for cuts to programs like TIGER, new transit construction, and passenger rail programs (read our detailed breakdown of the current House/Senate bills here), the House’s version of the 2018 budget eliminated TIGER funding and reduced the transit capital program down near levels that would only fund transit projects that already have signed funding agreements in hand.

This week the House is scheduled to consider their final House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill, and there are crucial amendments that could improve the bill by restoring funding for some of these programs — or make the damage far worse.

We’re asking T4America supporters to take action and send a message to their representatives this week urging them to protect and preserve the TIGER competitive grant program, funding for new transit construction, and passenger rail programs that keep towns and cities of all sizes connected to one another. It’s important that the House pass a bill with robust funding for these programs to set their starting point for negotiations with the Senate on the final product.

 

TAKE ACTION

 

Read about the amendments that we’ll be watching closely in the tracker below. Feel free to include information on these amendments as you send emails or make phone calls to your reps, and follow along on Twitter @t4america for updates as the debate begins this week. (Some of these amendments may be rejected by the House Rules Committee before they reach the floor — they are expected to only allow a few amendments for full floor consideration.)

Logged-in T4America members can read our detailed summary of the House THUD appropriations bill and vote below.

Members-only content

If you are an active T4America member, please log in to read the exclusive content hidden here. There are numerous benefits to membership — join today.

NumberSponsorDescriptionOutcome
7Maxine Waters (D-CA)Provides $7.5 billion for the TIGER program. Ruled out of order
8Maxine Waters (D-CA)Provides $550 million for the TIGER program, includes the current TIGER project eligibility criteria, specifically requires the Secretary to award the funds using the 2016 NOFO criteria, and requires that the Secretary distributes the grants 225 days after the enactment of the bill. Ruled out of order
13Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) Provides $500 million for the TIGER program. Ruled out of order
66Rod Blum (R-IA)Provides $200 million for the TIGER program and reduces HUD tenant rental assistance by $200 million as an offset. Ruled out of order
46Mark Amodei (R-NV)Requires the Secretary of Transportation to continue administering the current transit Capital Investment Grant Program and enter into a grant agreement with any Small Starts project that has satisfied the current eligibility requirements. Ruled out of order
38Darren Soto (D-FL)Increases the amount of funding for Small Starts funding by $48 million and decreases funding for intercity passenger rail projects by the same amount as an offset. Withdrawn
48Mo Brooks (R-AL)Eliminates funding for Amtrak's National Network only.Failed by a vote of 128-293
50Mo Brooks (R-AL)Eliminates both the funding for Amtrak's Northeast corridor and Amtrak's National Network.Ruled out of order
51Mo Brooks (R-AL)Eliminates funding for Amtrak's Northeast Corridor onlyRuled out of order
54Jim Himes (D-CT)Increases funding for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor account by $30 million and decreases essential air service funding by $30 million as an offset. Ruled out of order
83Ted Budd (R-NC)Eliminates the $900 million allocation for the Amtrak gateway program, increases funding for national New Starts Projects by $400 million and applies savings from the elimination of the TIGER Grant program to deficit reduction.Failed by a vote of 159-260
78Al Green (D-TX)Restores $250,000 in funding for the Department of Transportation Office of Civil Rights and reduces U.S. DOT salary and expenses by $250,000 as an offset.Ruled out of order

TIGER amendments

T4America supports efforts to fund TIGER because it is a crucial program that gives local governments direct access to federal dollars for innovative projects. TIGER projects are overwhelmingly multimodal and multi-jurisdictional projects – like rail connections to ports, complete streets, passenger rail, and freight improvements – that are often challenging to fund through the traditional, narrow formula programs. However, T4America opposes paying for a TIGER program by cutting other necessary programs like the HUD tenant rental assistance program. Recent appropriations bills show that there is enough resources to sufficiently fund both of these two important programs.

Transit construction grants

T4America supports legislative language that increases the likelihood that the transit capital program will continue operating as it should and also moves future Small Starts projects forward by ensuring these projects get grant agreements when they are ready. T4America opposes proposals to offset funding for Small Starts by taking money from intercity passenger rail.

Passenger rail

T4America opposes eliminating Amtrak’s funding, which is crucial to the economy vitality of our nation and communities across our country. The full national network provides mobility options for and acts as an economic catalyst to small and rural communities across the country. For many residents in these communities, the Amtrak connection is their primary way of traveling around the country, especially in areas that are losing Essential Air Service. Similarly, Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor is the primary travel option for millions of people traveling that congested corridor every year. Not only does it take cars off our congested roadways, benefiting train and road users alike, but is a huge economic driver for communities located along the Corridor. Cutting funding for Amtrak’s National Network and Northeast Corridor would decrease our nation’s prosperity, harm the economic vitality of communities that Amtrak serves, and greatly lower the amount of personal mobility and freedom that people that use Amtrak currently have. The House of Representatives rightly voted down these amendments two years ago and should do so again.

T4America opposes cutting funding from the Essential Air Service program to pay for the Northeast Corridor. While rail funding is important to the urban communities along the corridor and our nation’s economy as a whole, we need both and T4America opposes amendments that pit one infrastructure priority against another.