Federal highway spending in fiscal 2013 would remain the same as the prior year, but there wouldn’t be funding for TIGER grants or high-speed rail, through a bill introduced in the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.
The bill would provide $39.1 billion from the Highway Trust Fund for highway spending, and the funding level could change if Congress approves a multiyear surface transportation bill. There is also no language in the bill that would pull back highway contract authority from the states.
“Making smart investments in the nation’s transportation infrastructure is one of the best ways to help provide an environment for American businesses to create jobs and economic growth. This bill targets taxpayer dollars where they can be best used to improve the reliability, safety, and efficiency of our transportation systems, while also holding the line on spending to help reduce the nation’s growing deficits,” House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers said.
Overall transportation funding would fall $69 million from last year to $17.6 billion, largely because transit spending would be cut $181 million to $2 billion. The proposed funding of all transportation programs is $2 billion below President Obama’s request.
Most noticeably, the bill would not fund another round of the Transportation Investment Generating Economics Recovery Program. The TIGER grant program has allowed ports and railroads to receive federal funding for projects amid a ban on earmarks in Congress.
The Senate version of the bill would provide $500 million for TIGER grants, the same allocated for fiscal 2012, with no less than $120 million allocated for rural projects. The Senate bill would maintain highway spending and include $100 million for high-speed rail grants.