By Taylor McGinley

FY2020 Appropriations Status

nOV. 1, 2019

The Senate has passed a mini-spending package that includes appropriations for transportation, housing and urban development. Included in this package was an amendment introduced by Sens. Jones and McSally. This amendment (No. 1141) prohibits implementation of the “Rostenkowski Test” with respect to the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund. The Rostenkowski Test, if implemented, would have cut public transit funding across the board by 12 percent.

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.

Update on Nov. 1, 2019

The Senate has passed a mini-spending package that includes appropriations for transportation, housing and urban development. Included in this package was an amendment introduced by Sens. Jones and McSally. This amendment (No. 1141 prohibits implementation of the “Rostenkowski Test” with respect to the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund. The Rostenkowski Test, if implemented, would have cut public transit funding across the board by 12 percent.

Now that the Senate has joined the House in passing this spending package, there are still a couple steps left in order to ensure transportation funding for 2020. Both chambers will have to go to conference (or final negotiations) on final FY20 appropriations numbers. Once the House and the Senate pass those final, agreed upon numbers, the spending package will go to the President’s desk.

In order to avoid a government shut down, all of this must happen (not only for transportation appropriations, but all appropriation bills) by Nov. 21. This seems unlikely, and we should expect Congress to pass another continuing resolution until mid-December.

It should also be noted that Congress included similar language regarding the Rostenkowski Test in the most recent continuing resolution. If the same language isn’t applied in the next continuing resolution, or in the final appropriation’s bills, the test will still be implemented. CTAA is working closely with Congress to ensure this doesn’t happen.

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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.