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Transportation and Housing Appropriations

On July 23rd, the House passed the FY 2010 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (HR 3288) by a vote of 256-168. This bill builds on the work of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and our long term economic plan to make smart investments that will provide short-term help in the form of housing and jobs to those hurt most by the economic downturn and long-term solutions like improved highways, public transit, and airports to put our economy on sound footing for the future. 

Strengthening Our Economy by Investing in National Transportation Infrastructure

To create jobs and spur economic growth, this bill improves and repairs our nation's aging highway system and modernizes our air traffic control to make travel safer, easier and more efficient.   We invest in the next generation of high speed passenger rail and new commuter rail and light rail systems that will increase the use of public transportation and help wean us off of our addiction to foreign oil.

  • Federal Transit Administration:  Provides $10.5 billion, $148 million above the request and $352 million above 2009 including:
    • New Construction: Includes $1.8 billion for Capital Investment Grants for commuter rail or other light rail systems to increase public use of mass transit, alleviate traffic congestion, reduce gas consumption, and save commuters time and money.
    • Transit Formula Grants:  Invests $8.3 billion for Formula and Bus Grants for on-going capital and operating needs of urban and rural transit systems, including funding for new buses, stations, intermodal facilities, and technology improvements.
    • Washington Metro: Provides $150 million in new funding for capital and preventive maintenance grants for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority to address safety deficiencies and to maintain the nation's subway system.
  • Amtrak:  Provides $1.5 billion, as requested, to support the national passenger rail system.
  • High Speed/Intercity Passenger Rail:  Includes $4 billion, $3 billion above the request and $4 billion above 2009, to provide grants to states or Amtrak for high speed/intercity passenger rail to create a 21st Century passenger rail system that reduces congestion and environmental impacts. The Secretary may use or transfer $2 billion to a National Infrastructure Bank if one is authorized by the end of the fiscal year.
  • Highways:  Provides $41.1 billion, $407 million above 2009, to improve and repair our nation's aging highway infrastructure.  Every $1 billion of federal investments in highways creates an estimated 34,800 jobs.
  • Airport Modernization, Safety and Efficiency Grants:  Includes $3.5 billion to ease congestion and prepare our nation's airports for growing use.
  • Modernizing Air Traffic Control: Provides $2.9 billion, including $785 million to modernize the Federal Aviation Administration's air traffic control system.

Combating the Housing Crisis and Housing Assistance for the Vulnerable
The legislation increases funding for vouchers and housing assistance for the neediest Americans - the disabled and elderly and homeless veterans - and invests in counseling to keep families who are at risk of foreclosure in their homes.

  • Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation: Provides $197 million to provide counseling for families in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure.
  • Housing Counseling Assistance:  Includes $70 million, $5 million above 2009, to continue pre-purchase counseling for prospective homebuyers.
  • Reverse Mortgages: The bill provides for the continuation of the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage program, which provides an important option for seniors to remain in their homes.
  • Public Housing Capital Fund: Provides $2.5 billion, 8 percent more than 2009, for Public Housing Authorities to make critical repairs and improvements to public housing units and improve living conditions for residents.
  • Public Housing Operating Fund:  Includes $4.8 billion for maintenance, crime prevention and energy costs.
  • Section 8 Tenant-Based Vouchers:  Provides $18 billion, 7 percent above 2009, to support 2.1 million vouchers to individuals and families.
  • Veterans Housing Vouchers:  Include $75 million to provide 10,000 housing vouchers for homeless veterans.
  • Section 8 Project-Based Vouchers:  Includes nearly $9 billion, $1.6 billion above 2009, to provide affordable housing to 1.3 million low-income families and individuals, two-thirds of whom are elderly or disabled.
  • Housing for the Elderly:  Provides $1 billion to rehabilitate and build housing for low-income elderly people. Ten eligible seniors are on the waiting list for every one unit of housing available.
  • Housing for the Disabled:  Includes $350 million, $100 million above the request and 2009, for grants to rehabilitate and build housing for disabled people.
  • Homeless Assistance Grants: Invests $1.9 billion, 12 percent above 2009, for grants to local communities to provide housing and services for the homeless.
  • Housing for Persons with AIDS:  Provides $350 million, 13 percent above the request and 2009, to help address homelessness within this vulnerable population.
  • Loan limits for FHA and GSEs: The bill extends the loan limits enacted in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through the end of the 2010 fiscal year.

Revitalizing Local Communities & Strengthening Rural Communities
We invest in grant programs that revitalize neighborhoods and spur economic development in vacant commercial and industrial sites.

  • Community Development Block Grants:  Includes $4.6 billion to fund community and economic development projects in 1,180 localities.
  • Sustainable Communities Initiative: The bill includes $150 million within the Community Development Block Grants program, as requested in the President's budget, for a new sustainable communities initiative to provide grants to assist local communities with integrated housing, transportation and energy planning efforts.
  • Brownfields Redevelopment:  Invests $25 million, $15 million above 2009, to remove blight and spur economic development on formerly vacant commercial and industrial sites.
  • HOPE VI:  More than doubles to $250 million funds for competitive grants to transform neighborhoods of extreme poverty into sustainable mixed-income neighborhoods through the demolition of severely distressed public housing.  This is in lieu of the President's new initiative Choice Neighborhoods.
  • Essential Air Service:  Includes $175 million to continue essential air service to small and/or rural communities.
  • Rural Transit Formula Grants: Provides $607 million, $69 million above 2009, to support public transportation in rural communities.
  • Rural Innovation Fund:  Includes $25 million for a new initiative to encourage innovative practices in rural communities to further economic development.
  • Native American Housing Block Grants:  Invests $750 million, $105 million above 2009, to rehabilitate and construct housing on Native American lands.

Transportation Safety

  • Aviation Safety Programs:  Provides $1.2 billion, including $9.5 million to hire additional flight standard inspectors and $4.5 million to hire additional aircraft certification inspection staff.
  • Highway Safety Programs: Includes $867 million for the programs of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to make America's roads safer by encouraging safety belt use, preventing drinking and driving, improving child safety, motorcyclist safety, and other initiatives.
  • Pipeline Safety:  Invests $105 million, $12 million above 2009, for the state pipeline safety grant program to increase the federal/local match to 70/30 for pipeline safety grants.
  • Federal Railroad Safety Research:  Provides $64 million, $30.2 million above 2009, for passenger and freight railroad research and development. This will cover funds to conduct research into high speed rail and advanced diesel locomotive design.
  • National Transportation Safety Board Investigators:  Includes $99.2 million to provide additional investigators to respond to transportation crashes.

Fiscal Responsibility

  • The 12 Appropriations Bills Are Fiscally Responsible -- $10 Billion Below the President's Proposed Budget:   The budget conference report adopted by the Congress in April required a cut in discretionary spending in FY 2010 of $10 billion below the funding requested by President Obama in his budget.  As a result, the 12 FY 2010 appropriations bills overall must be $10 billion below the President's budget.
  • This Bill Eliminates Programs and Cuts Funding below 2009 For Another 15 Programs - Achieving Gross Savings of $1.5 billion:  The Financial Service bill is fiscally responsible, targeting dollars to high-priority needs, while eliminating 2 programs and cutting funding below 2009 for another 83 programs.  For example, the bill cuts funds for buses, bus facilities, and transit projects that have been completed.
  • Unprecedented Earmark Reform:  Since taking control of Congress in January 2007, Democrats have reformed an earmark process that had grown out of control, spent too much money, fostered corruption, and offered no accountability to the American taxpayer. 
    • Unprecedented rules for transparency, initiated in 2007 and expanded this year, requiring that each earmark request must now be made public, whether or not the request is funded.  Each earmark request must be supported by a public letter from the Member of Congress identifying the earmark, the entity that will receive the requested funds, what public need the funds would fulfill, and a certification that neither the requesting Member nor his/her spouse would benefit from it financially.
    • Significant reductions in the total dollar amount earmarked for non-projected-based accounts in appropriations -totaling 43 percent below the 2006 level in the 2008 bills, reducing further in the 2009 bills, and reducing down to 50 percent this year.