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Statement from Transportation for America on House Passage of THUD Appropriations

On Thursday, September 14, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3354, the “Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act, 2018”, which contains the fiscal year 2018 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations. Beth Osborne, interim T4America director, issued the following response:

“We are disappointed and concerned that the House decided to move ahead with a bill that cuts federal appropriations for vital transportation programs, including the TIGER and transit Capital Investment Grant (CIG) Programs. Local governments and voters are investing their own dollars on innovative transportation, housing, and neighborhood revitalization projects but they need help from these vital federal programs to make these things happen. This spending bill pulls the rug out from under those communities.

“The House-passed THUD spending bill zeroes out funding for TIGER, a crucial program that gives local governments direct access to federal dollars for innovative projects. TIGER projects are overwhelmingly multimodal and multijurisdictional projects — like rail connections to ports, complete streets, passenger rail, and freight improvements — that are often challenging to fund through the underlying formula programs. In 2016, U.S. DOT received 585 applications totaling over $9.3 billion, reflecting an overwhelming demand across the country for the TIGER program. Through the first seven rounds of grant awards, each TIGER dollar brought in 3.5 non-federal dollars. Given the $500 million appropriated last year by Congress, that’s over $1.5 billion in other critical infrastructure spending that would likely be lost under this bill.

“This bill also appropriates no money for new transit investments through the Small Starts and New Starts programs. These programs provide federal matching funds for communities and regions that are taking the initiative and committing hefty sums of their own local dollars to build or expand transit systems. Without additional federal funding for transit construction, its likely that few, if any, new transit projects will be built.

“This appropriations bill ignores why communities need federal community development and transportation programs. It’s not just that they need money or innovative tools — which, for the record, they do. They also need a reliable partner who can support their work, not austerity measures that punish them for taking action. If the federal government quits being that reliable partner — which this appropriations bill absolutely implies — it will cause lasting damage to American communities and break the President and Congress’s promise to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure. These programs invest in communities across the country, improving mobility, security, and economic opportunity. Now is not the time to slash these investments.

“We urge the Senate to reject the disinvestment this bill represents and instead pass a bill that reinvests and rebuilds America for the future.”