The House of Representatives approved 229 to 192 legislation that would continue funding the federal highway and public transportation programs at nearly current levels of investment despite the fact the Highway Trust Fund will not be able to support any new spending beginning October 1.  The measure would maintain federal highway investment at $40.3 billion in FY 2015.  The bill, however, would cut more than $200 million from the transit capital “New Starts Program” and $150 million from the Amtrak capital program.  Most Democrats voted against the bill due to its Amtrak, transit and housing program investment cuts.

House members also approved by voice vote an amendment by Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) that would prevent the U.S. DOT from enforcing current law that prohibits transit agencies from imposing local hiring or training preferences on federal-aid transit and highway contracts they award.  The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has some highways in its jurisdiction and Rep. Bass is from Los Angeles.  ARTBA joined with the Associated General Contractors, National Asphalt Pavement Association, National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association, and American Concrete Pavement Association urging House members to oppose the amendment as it is counter to the principle of open competition that current law presently embraces with respect to the procurement of federal-aid surface transportation projects.

The Senate has not yet acted on its version of the FY 2015 transportation funding measure, but a comparison of the House proposal and the legislation approved June 5 by the Senate Appropriations Committee is below.

  FY 2014 House FY 2015 Senate FY 2015
Highways $40.3 B $40.3 B $40.3 B
Transit Formula $8.6 B $8.6 B $8.6 B
Transit Capital Grant $1.9 B $1.7 B $2.1 B
Airport Improvement Program $3.35 B $3.35 $3.48 B
TIGER Grants $600 M $100 M $550 M
Amtrak Capital Program $1.05 B $850 M $1.05 B