2016 House THUD Bill not for the faint of heart

The House Appropriations Committee have published their draft of the 2016 Bill. It resembles last year's house bill which we considered insufficient for rail.

The bad news:

Capital Appropriations are slashed to $850,000,000 from last year's conference total of $1,140,000,000. Operations are increased slightly from the conference total of $250,000,000 to $288,500,000 but is down from last year house proposal of $340,000,000. Of the Capital Appropriations, up to $160 million can be spent on Debt Maintenance and no less than $50 million on ADA.

The rest of the FRA is level funding: $186,870,000 for Safety and Operations and $39,100,000 for Rail Research and Developments.

In other sections of the bill, TIGER Grants are $100,000,000 down from $500,000,000 last year.

FTA Formula grants look the same, however Capital Grants are cut to $1,921,395,000 from conference of $2,120,000,000 and Washington Metro's special capital grant of $150,000,000 is cut in half to $75,000,000.

Amtrak IG is level funded at $23,999,000.

The good news besides the slight increase in operating funds is that no language on food service is contained in the bill.

As I mentioned lately, the practice has been to defer any amendments to the draft to full committee. Whether or not the new subcommittee chairman will continue this practice is unknown. 

The total for the entire THUD Bill is $25 million more than last year. It would have been larger except that receipts from Federal Housing Agencies were down another $1.5 billion. Within the Transportation section, the big winner was the FAA which got $159 million more than last year and is $40 million above request. Small increases went to the Maritime Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration.

While not a shut down appropriation, these figures if they stand will make it very difficult to start any thing significant in 2016 (especially any new equipment or construction of any portion of the Gateway Project). Improvements will come solely from the High Speed Project in New Jersey, and the work in upstate New York at Rennselear and Albany-Schenectady which are funded by the remains of the ARRA money.

Steve Musen