House Finishes Transportation and Infrastructure Portions of FY18 Omnibus Appropriations
September 8, 2017|Jeff Davis
September 8, 2017
Debate in the House of Representatives on the omnibus appropriation bill for fiscal year 2018 (H.R. 3354) will continue next week, but the chamber has already dealt with all of the amendments to the bill that deal with transportation and infrastructure programs.
Debate has been completed on Division H of the package (the Transportation-HUD appropriations bill) and on Division E of the package (the Homeland Security bill). While the House is still working on Division A (the Interior/Environment bill, which includes the Environmental Protection Agency and its water infrastructure grant programs), the amendments relating to infrastructure have already been dealt with. (The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill, which funds the Army Corps of Engineers water infrastructure program, passed the House as part of a different package in July and is being appended to H.R. 3354 before that bill goes to the Senate.)
The total amount of non-defense appropriations under the complete House omnibus is $8.7 below the fiscal 2017 enacted level, a reduction of 1.7 percent. But House appropriations for the defense category are $70.4 billion above the 2017 level, a 13.1 percent increase. (When Overseas Contingency Operations appropriations for Iraq/Afghanistan/Syria etc are combined with the defense total, the increase in Defense/OCO is only $53.3 billion, an increase of 8.1 percent over last year.)
The spending caps in the Budget Control Act of 2011 will have to be amended in order to allow the House’s defense total to be enacted into law, since the omnibus bill is $72.4 billion above the defense cap for 2018.
House members filed over 1,000 amendments to the eight-bill omnibus package, and the House Rules Committee made 342 of them in order. 198 of those have been debated (or were not offered) so far, and 144 more are on deck for next week. The transportation and infrastructure highlights of the amendment debate were:
New York/New Jersey Gateway. The transportation amendment that got the most debate time was an amendment by freshman Ted Budd (R-NC) to take a whack at the $900 million that was set aside, more or less, in the House bill for the Gateway program of passenger rail and mass transit projects in New York and New Jersey. Budd’s amendment would have reduced the bill’s $500 million appropriation for the Federal Railroad Administration’s new Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair discretionary grant program – an appropriation that is 20 times the FY 2017 appropriation – down to $26 million and transferring the $474 million savings to deficit reduction. And within the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grants account, the amendment would have killed the $400 million set-aside for projects that are joint Amtrak-transit projects (i.e. Gateway) and transferred the money to the regular New Starts program so it could be available for the Maryland Purple Line and other projects in Seattle, Minneapolis, and Santa Ana.
Opposition to the Budd amendment, which was extended by Transportation-HUD chairman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), emphasized three undeniable facts: (1) the $900 million was not an earmark under House and Senate earmark rules; (2) the money for both programs (FRA FSPSOGR and FTA §5309(q)) was specifically authorized by Congress by wide margins in the FAST Act of 2015, and (3) the unmet capital needs of passenger rail between New York and New Jersey are huge. However, none of those facts directly rebutted Budd’s point that it was not proper for Congress to single out one area for such a large share of total discretionary transportation funding.
At the end of the day, about two-thirds of Budd’s Republican colleagues joined him in supporting his amendment, but only a handful of Democrats joined in, so his amendment failed by a vote of 159 yeas, 260 nays. This is a clear victory for new Appropriations Committee chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), who put the $900 million in the House bill for Gateway back in July.
Highway rescission. The House also adopted an amendment by Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA) sought by state DOTs that would allow states much more flexibility in implementing the $800 million rescission of highway contract authority balances mandated by the bill. (To see the text of the rescission that the Woodall amendment rescinded, see pages 1163-1164 of this document.) Rep. David Price (D-NC), the ranking minority member of the Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee, spoke against the Woodall amendment because, he said, it was objected to by Democrats on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee who said the amendment would disrupt the distribution of contract authority by program that was agreed to by the FAST Act of 2015.
In response, Woodall said that he himself was a member of the T&I Committee and would be glad to explain to anyone how restricting state flexibility in rescission implementation was in line with the will of the majority of the authorizers. After Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee chairman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) indicated his support for the Woodall amendment, it was adopted by the House by voice vote.
Clean Water Act SRF grants. By a voice vote, the House agreed to an amendment by Rep. John Katko (R-NY) increasing the bill’s appropriation for grants under the Clean Water Act to capitalize state revolving funds, which then make low-interest loans to municipalities for wastewater infrastructure. The amendment increases the appropriation by $250 million, from $1.144 billion to $1.394 billion.
Truck safety. The House sent mixed messages on trucking safety. The House accepted, by voice vote, an amendment by Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) that suspends, through September 2018, the pending rule requiring that all trucks over 26,000 pounds have electronic speed limiter devices installed. But the House then voted down an amendment by Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) to suspend, through September 2018, federal authority to require that trucks install electronic logging devices by a roll call vote of 173 to 246. An anticipated amendment on the issue of federal preemption of state trucking laws (“F4A”) was not offered.
Autonomous vehicles oversight. The House adopted an amendment by Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) to increase the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s general fund appropriation for vehicle safety activities by $9 million. Earlier that day, the House had passed the SELF DRIVE Act, giving NHTSA the authority to regulate autonomous vehicle technology. Lipinski said his extra $9 million “supplies the initial financial resources needed to carry out the directives of that bill. This includes validating the safety of self-driving cars; defining new testing protocols as the technology advances; and partnering with industry, along with State and local governments, to conduct oversight of these new vehicles.”
A full list of transportation and infrastructure-related amendments to H.R. 3354 made in order by the Rules Committee, with amendment disposition, is below. All page and line numbers referenced in amendments refer to this version of the bill.
Division H – Transportation-HUD
21. Lipinski (IL) #18 – reduces the appropriation for the Office of the Secretary of Transportation (Salaries and Expenses) by $9 million and increases the appropriation for National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – Operations and Research (the general fund portion for vehicle safety) by the same amount. The stated intent of the amendment author is for NHTSA to use the money for the purpose of expanding NHTSA’s connected and automated vehicles oversight and regulatory capabilities – AGREED TO BY VOICE VOTE.
22. Mitchell (MI) #44 – reduces the salary and expense accounts for the DOT and HUD Secretaries 10 percent and transfers the savings to the Spending Reduction Account – FAILED BY VOICE VOTE.
23. DeSaulnier (CA) #56 – reduces the appropriation for Office of the Secretary of Transportation – Salaries and Expenses by $15 million and increases the appropriation for USDOT Research and Technology by the same amount. It is the stated intent of the amendment author that the $15 million go to the University Transportation Center program – AGREED TO BY VOICE VOTE EN BLOC.
24. Hanabusa (HI) #70 – reduces the appropriation for the Secretary of Transportation (Salaries and Expenses) by $7 million and increases the appropriation for MARAD Assistance to Small Shipyards by the same amount – AGREED TO BY VOICE VOTE EN BLOC.
25. McClintock (CA) #85 – LATE – eliminates the bill’s $150 million appropriation for Essential Air Service subsidies and transfers the savings to the bill’s spending reduction account – FAILED BY ROLL CALL VOTE OF 140 YEAS, 280 NAYS.
26. Kildee (MI) #25 – REVISED – increases HUD funding for the HOME program by $100 million and reduces FAA Operations funding for air traffic control by the same amount – OFFERED AND WITHDRAWN.
27. Torres (CA) #16 – moves $12 million around within the obligation limitation on the federal-aid highways program. The stated intent of the amendment author is to force FHWA to apply that $12 million to the Regional Infrastructure Accelerator Demonstration Program authorized by section 1441 of the FAST Act (P.L. 114-94) – AGREED TO BY VOICE VOTE EN BLOC.
28. Woodall (GA) #43 – amends the language in the bill rescinding $800 million in highway contract authority balances held by states. The amendment strikes the language that prevents the highway rescission from applying to safety programs and to funds sub-allocated within a state by population and it strikes the language that forces each state to apply the rescission proportionately amongst all other program balances. In essence, the amendment allows state DOTs full latitude to pick and choose the programs from which to take the share of the rescission – AGREED TO BY VOICE VOTE.
30. Lowey (NY) #9 – moves $1 million around in the Federal Railroad Administration – Railroad Research and Development account. The stated intent of the amendment sponsor is to redirect that $1 million towards implementing medical fitness standards for critical safety personnel on interstate railways – AGREED TO BY VOICE VOTE EN BLOC.
31. Nolan (MN) #80 – LATE – deletes, and then restores, the $500 million appropriation for the FRA Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair program – AGREED TO BY VOICE VOTE EN BLOC.
32. Budd (NC) #83 – LATE AND TWICE REVISED– reduces the appropriation for FRA Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair program by $474 million and transfers those savings to the Spending Reduction Account in that division. Reduces the FTA Capital Investment Grant set-aside for §5309(q) projects (joint Amtrak-mass transit projects) by $400 million and increases the set-aside for §5309(d) New Start projects by the same amount. The stated intent of the amendment author is to reduce funding for the New York – New Jersey Gateway Program by $874 million by returning $474 million to the Treasury and by transferring $400 million to New Start projects with newly signed FFGAs or which are currently in the New Starts Engineering phase – FAILED BY ROLL CALL VOTE OF 159 YEAS, 260 NAYS.
33. Brooks (AL) #48 – strikes the $1.1 billion appropriation for Amtrak National Network grants from the bill. (Does not, as filed, transfer the savings to the Deficit Reduction Account.) – FAILED BY ROLL CALL VOTE OF 128 YEAS TO 293 NAYS.
34. Torres (CA) #17 – moves $10 million around within the obligation limitation on the mass transit formula grants program. The stated intent of the amendment author is to force FTA to apply that $10 million to the Transit-Oriented Development Pilot Program authorized by section 20005(b) of the MAP-21 Act (P.L. 112-141). (This seems redundant because $10 million per year through 2020 is specifically set aside for this program by section 3016 of the FAST Act, unlike the highway program mentioned in Torres #16, which had no specific FAST Act funding provided). – AGREED TO BY VOICE VOTE EN BLOC.
35. Nolan (MN) #81 – LATE – deletes, and then restores, the FTA Capital Investment Grant appropriation by $659 million – AGREED TO BY VOICE VOTE EN BLOC.
36. Soto (FL) #38 – within the appropriation for Federal Transit Administration – Capital Investment Grants, the amendment transfers $48 million from the set-aside for §5309(q) joint transit-Amtrak projects (i.e. New York/New Jersey Gateway) to the set-aside for §5309(h) small starts. It is the stated intention of the amendment offer to make the money available for the Florida Sunrail project. – OFFERED AND WITHDRAWN.
37. Carbajal (CA) #89 – LATE – increases and then decreases the bill’s $162 million appropriation For PHMSA Pipeline Safety by $1 million. It is the stated intention of the amendment author that the money be used to finalize and implement the pipeline valve safety shutoff rule under 49 U.S.C. §60102(n) – AGREED TO BY VOICE VOTE.
[then 11 amendments relating to the HUD budget]
49. Thompson (PA) #53 – adds a new general provision to the division preventing DOT, during FY 2018, from establishing or collecting tolls on Interstate 80 in Pennsylvania – AGREED TO BY VOICE VOTE.
50. Rooney (FL) #45 – prevents DOT and HUD, during FY 2018, from enforcing Executive Order 13502 of February 6, 2009, which requires the use of project labor agreements on federal construction projects – NOT OFFERED.
52. Jackson-Lee (TX) #28 – states that none of the FY 2018 funding provided in the division can be used in contravention of 49 U.S.C. §5309 (the mass transit capital investment grant statute) (No one is quite sure what this means, legally.). – AGREED TO BY VOICE VOTE.
53. Herrera-Beutler (WA) #72 – prohibits funds in this division, during FY 2018, from being used to establish or collect tolls on Interstates 5 or 205 in Oregon or Washington – AGREED TO BY VOICE VOTE.
[then 3 more HUD-only limitation amendments]
57. Perry (PA) #60 – REVISED – adds a new general provision preventing FMCSA and NHTSA, during FY 2018, from implementing or enforcing the rule on speed limitation devices printed in the Federal Register on September 7, 2016 – AGREED TO BY VOICE VOTE.
58. Babin (TX) #35 – REVISED – adds a new general provision to the bill preventing DOT in FY 2018 from implementing, administering or enforcing 49 U.S.C. §31137 and its electronic logging enforcement requirement for commercial motor vehicles – FAILED BY ROLL CALL VOTE OF 173 YEAS, 246 NAYS.
59. King (IA) #82 – LATE AND REVISED – prevents any funding in the division, during FY 2018, from being used to hire an employee prior to using E-Verify for that prospective employee – NOT OFFERED.
60. Nolan (MN) #79 – LATE AND REVISED – increases the liquidating cash appropriation for the FAA Airport Improvement Program by $10 million. It is the stated intent of the amendment author to make the $10 million available for the Small Community Air Service program. (In which case, it might have been better to transfer the money to the Office of the Secretary, who actually administers SCAS – FAA just transfers the money to them anyway) – AGREED TO BY VOICE VOTE EN BLOC.
Division E– Homeland Security
62. Swalwell (CA) #78 – reduces the appropriation for the Secretary of Homeland Security (Operations and Support) by $10 million and increases the appropriation for Transportation Security Administration – Research and Development by the same amount. It is the stated intent of the amendment author to use the $10 million for TSA to conduct evaluations and pilot testing of technology to detect intrusions on airport perimeters – AGREED TO BY VOICE VOTE EN BLOC.
74. Roybal-Allard (CA) #1 – reduces the appropriation for ICE – Operations and Support by $849.5 million and increases the appropriations for Coast Guard – Acquisition, Construction and Improvements by the same amount. It is the stated intent of the amendment author to use the $849.5 million for the polar icebreaker – FAILED BY ROLL CALL VOTE OF 170 YEAS, 241 NAYS.
76. Correa (CA) #47 – reduces the appropriation for ICE – Operations and Support by $100 million and increases the appropriations for Coast Guard – Acquisition, Construction and Improvements by the same amount. It is the stated intent of the amendment author to use the $100 million for cutters for drug interdiction – FAILED BY ROLL CALL VOTE OF 182 YEAS, 229 NAYS.
77. Hunter (CA) #119 (LATE) – Transfers $5 million dollars from the Coast Guard’s Operations Expenses to its Research, Development, Test and Evaluation Account. It is the stated purpose of the amendment author to dedicate the $5 million to supporting Coast Guard icebreaker sea trials – AGREED TO BY ROLL CALL VOTE OF 245 YEAS, 168 NAYS.
80. King (IA) #8 – prevents the enforcement of the Davis-Bacon Act during FY 2018 by agencies and programs funded by the division (modified on the House floor to cover other divisions as well) – FAILED BY ROLL CALL VOTE OF 173 YEAS, 240 NAYS.
83. Gaetz (FL) #53 – REVISED – prohibits DHS from enforcing any project labor agreements during FY 2018 – NOT OFFERED.
85. Zeldin (NY) #77 – adds a new section to the bill preventing the Coast Guard from enforcing Executive Order 13449 or 50 CFR 697.7(b) in the Block Island Transit Zone – AGREED TO BY VOICE VOTE.
86. Maloney (NY) #107– prevents the Coast Guard, during FY 2018, from establishing new anchorages on the Hudson River – AGREED TO BY VOICE VOTE EN BLOC.
89. Jackson-Lee (TX) #29 – prevents DHS during FY 2018 from limiting the discretion of DHS to enhance the use of Federal air marshals on inbound international flights considered to be high risk by DHS – AGREED TO BY VOICE VOTE EN BLOC.
Division A – Interior/Environment
30. Katko (NY) #44 – reduces the appropriation for Environmental Protection Agency – Environmental Programs and Management by $250 million while increasing the appropriation for Environmental Protection Agency – State and Tribal Assistance Grants by the same amount and dedicating the $250 million to Clean Water State Revolving Fund capitalization grants – AGREED TO BY VOICE VOTE.
31. Lujan (NM) #136 – moves $6 million around within the appropriation for Environmental Protection Agency – State and Tribal Assistance Grants. It is the stated intention of the amendment author to to direct the EPA to work with the affected States and Indian tribes to implement a long-term monitoring program for water quality of the Animas and San Juan Rivers in response to the Gold King Mine spill – AGREED TO BY ROLL CALL VOTE OF 220 YEAS, 191 NAYS.
36. Beyer (VA) #1 – strikes section 430 of the division. Section 430 would prevent prevents the federal government from requiring a permit for the discharge of dredged or fill material under the Clean Water Act for the activities identified in subparagraphs (A) and (C) of 33 U.S.C. §1344 – FAILED BY VOICE VOTE.
37. Beyer (VA) #2 – strikes section 431 of the division. Section 431 would authorize the Administrator of the EPA and the Secretary of the Army to withdraw the “Waters of the United States” rule without regard to any provision of statue or regulation that establishes a requirement for such withdrawal – FAILED BY VOICE VOTE.
42. Gaetz (FL) #57 – REVISED – prohibits any funds in the Interior/Environment division of the bill from being used to enforce any project labor agreements during FY 2018 – NOT OFFERED.
53. King (IA) #15 – prevents the enforcement of the Davis-Bacon Act during FY 2018 by agencies and programs funded by the division – NOT OFFERED.
71. Perry (PA) #117 – prevents Interior or EPA, during FY 2018, from using any unmanned aircraft system to perform surveying, mapping, or collecting remote sensing data – NOT OFFERED.
77. Norman (SC) #64 – REVISED – reduces total FY 2018 EPA appropriations by $1.87 billion but does not specify from which accounts – OFFERED AND DEBATED ON SEPT. 8 BUT ROLL CALL VOTE POSTPONED UNTIL NEXT WEEK.
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