Legislative Activity

Mulvaney: Infrastructure Bill Might Include $200 Billion in Direct Spending

Last week, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney said that the Administration’s proposed FY 2018 budget could include $200 billion for infrastructure with the understanding that it would be leveraged at a 5-to-1 ratio to spur more than $1 trillion in infrastructure investment. The Administration’s full infrastructure proposal is not expected to be released until this summer or fall.

Appropriations Action Expected This Week

The current short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) that funds federal programs expires on April 28 and Congress will need to pass another spending bill to keep the federal government open.  This week, we should learn how much funding Congress intends to appropriate for several discretionary transportation programs. While Congress could pass another short-term CR to buy additional time to consider appropriations for FY 2017, Republicans and Democrats are reportedly close to a deal that would combine the FY 2017 appropriations bills into a single Omnibus funding bill.

In March, the President proposed significant cuts to transportation programs in the Administration’s FY 2018 “Skinny Budget” proposal released in March.  This included cuts to the Capital Investment Grants program (New Starts) and completely zeroing out both the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program and the Essential Air Service (EAS) program.  Additionally, the Administration suggested cuts to these programs for FY 2017 to offset an increase in Defense spending and funding for a southern border wall.

However, these transportation programs have broad support from both Republicans and Democrats in Congress and we expect final FY 2017 appropriations to reflect the funding levels for these programs that were included in the House and Senate FY 2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bills that emerged last year.  Those funding levels are identified here:

  • CIG
    • House: $2.5 billion
    • Senate: $2.338 billion
    • House: $450 million
    • Senate: $525 million
  • EAS
    • House: $150 million
    • Senate: $150 million

This Week’s Hearings:

  • On Wednesday, April 26, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials has scheduled a hearing titled “Building a 21st Century Infrastructure for America: The State of Railroad, Pipeline, and Hazardous Materials Safety Regulations and Opportunities for Reform.” The witnesses will be:
    • Linda B. Darr, President, American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association;
    • Roger Nober, Executive Vice President, Law and Corporate Affairs, BNSF Railway;
    • Paul Rankin, President, Reusable Industrial Packaging Association (on behalf of the Interested Parties for Hazardous Materials Transportation);
    • Robin Rorick, Group Director of Midstream and Industry Operations, American Petroleum Institute;
    • Donald J. Santa, Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer, Interstate Natural Gas Association of America; and
    • John Tolman, Vice President and National Legislative Representative, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.
  • On Wednesday, April 26, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness has scheduled a hearing titled “Reopening the American Frontier: Reducing Regulatory Barriers and Expanding American Free Enterprise in Space.” The witnesses will be:
    • Mr. Robert Bigelow, Founder, Bigelow Aerospace;
    • Mr. Rob Meyerson, President, Blue Origin;
    • Mr. George Whitesides, CEO, Virgin Galactic; and
    • Mr. Andrew Rush, CEO, Made in Space.
  • On Thursday, April 27, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management has scheduled a hearing titled “Building a 21st Century Infrastructure for America: Mitigating Damage and Recovering Quickly from Disasters.” The witnesses will be:
    • Andrew Phelps, Director, Oregon Office of Emergency Management;
    • Chief John Sinclair, President and Chairman of the Board, International Association of Fire Chiefs;
    • Mark Berven, President and Chief Operating Officer, Nationwide Property and Casualty Operations (on behalf of the Build Strong Coalition);
    • The Honorable W. Craig Fugate, Former Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency; and
    • The Honorable R. David Paulison, Former Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency.