The Senate came back from August recess last Monday, Sept. 9, and got straight to work on appropriations. As a reminder, the House of Representatives have passed a total of ten appropriations bill that would fund the government for fiscal year 2020. On June 25, the House passed a package of FY20 appropriations bills that included Transportation, Housing and Urban Development. The House increased bus programs by $485 million. Specifically, $383 million was allocated for 5339b and $102 million was allocated for the 5339c low/no emissions program. As mentioned earlier, this bill passed the House of Representatives and was sent to the Senate for their deliberation.
On Sept. 17, 2019, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development marked up their version of the appropriations bill for FY20. The Senate bill includes an increase of $470 million for bus and bus facilities, which is a significant increase above the FY20 FAST Act authorized levels. Specifically, the Senate allocated an increase of $390 million to 5339b and $40 million for the 5339c low/no emissions program. Additionally, there was an increase for 5311 formula funds by $40 million. To date, this is the most significant increase to bus and bus facility funding from the Senate. This bill will now go before the full Senate Appropriations Committee, with a full committee markup expected later this week.
This is exciting news, as it puts transit in a safe position for when the House and Senate come to negotiate the final FY20 appropriations numbers. It is expected that the House and Senate will pass a continuing resolution (a temporary funding measure that allows the government to stay open past the close of its fiscal year) and continue appropriations discussions into mid-November/early-December.
Check back in later this week as CTAA will update this blog post to reflect bus and bus facility funding levels released from the full Appropriations Committee.
Update on 9/19/19: The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS and Education released their FY2020 appropriations bill. In the report accompanying the bill, there is language that directs Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to study the value of non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) before publishing the rule allowing states to waive the benefit. While the report language does not carry the same legal weight as language in an appropriations bill, it is taken seriously and followed by agencies. The House FY2020 Labor/HHS appropriations bill as similar language, meaning that CMS is unlikely to publish a rule disregarding the will of Senate Republicans.
The Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) and its members believe that mobility is a basic human right. From work and education to life-sustaining health care and human services programs to shopping and visiting with family and friends, mobility directly impacts quality of life.