Six months into fiscal year 2018, Congress has finally set spending levels for federal agencies and programs. The $1.3 trillion omnibus appropriations bill includes great news for many programs for which the Trump administration proposed elimination or significant cuts.
federal transportation policy
A week ago, Congress reached agreement on overall spending caps, which would allow for significant increases in defense and domestic spending in FY2018 and FY2019. Their agreement includes an additional $10 billion per year for two years to put towards different kinds of infrastructure investments (broader than just transportation). Congress now has about six weeks to divide those overall increases into the funding allocations for federal programs and agencies.
On January 30, President Trump delivered his state of the union. A few sentences in his speech referenced the long-delayed infrastructure package, as he called on Congress to pass a bill that would pair any Federal dollars with state, local, and private investments to “build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways, and waterways.”
There was a pile-up of legislative priorities in December, and Congress ended up getting a tax bill through but punted action on spending levels, the DACA immigration policy, and stabilizing the health insurance market to 2018. This means that January is now full of deadlines.
With the remaining days of the year quickly winding down, Congress has a very short window to address a legislative pileup.
Congress has not yet reached agreement on spending levels for government agencies, with the current extension ending on December 8. There is likely to be an extension for another few weeks or even until early January. Negotiations have been challenging, as they include spending levels as well as a resolution to the end of the DACA immigration policy for young people—so a government shutdown is not out of the picture.
Congress continues to debate 2018 federal government spending levels, which must be settled by December. Unfortunately, the House of Representatives has included in its appropriations bill an amendment offered by Rep. Woodall (R-GA) that could be harmful to local control of transportation funding.
After spending August at home in their districts, Members of Congress are returning to Washington with a packed agenda ahead of them in September. Congress must raise the federal debt limit to avoid defaulting on our national debt and extend funding through the appropriations process to keep the government running.
The latest version of the health care repeal bill is down for the count after the Senate voted against moving forward, leaving the Prevention Fund intact for the time being. The big question is what does Congress move on to now? There is a lot of pressure on Republicans to deliver some sort of big legislative priority.
Congress continues to struggle with finding consensus on major legislation, and also still has a lot of work ahead in coming months to settle federal government spending levels for 2018.
While Safe Routes to School advocates are all convinced about the grave need for safety improvements around schools to make sure kids and families can be active and safe, not all state Departments of Transportation are on the same page.