Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), the Chairman of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Subcommittee, announced today that the Senate passed the fiscal year (FY) 2019 THUD appropriations bill she co-authored with Senator Jack Reed (D-RI). The bill was advanced by a vote of 83-16 and was included in a funding package that would fund the remaining government agencies and avoid another lapse in government spending. The FY 2019 THUD Appropriations Act will now be considered by the U.S. House of Representatives.
“At its core, much in this bill is about creating jobs and security for our fellow Americans,” Senator Collins continued. “If you do not have a place to live, it is very difficult to show up for work every day. If the infrastructure is crumbling, it is very difficult for a business to hire the employees that produce goods and to get those products to markets.”
“Through considerable negotiation and compromise, our Committee drafted this important legislation that makes smart investments in our nation’s infrastructure, helps meet the housing needs for low-income seniors and other vulnerable populations, and provides funding for economic development projects,” said Senator Collins. “I am delighted to announce that our legislation was advanced today by a strong bipartisan vote of 83-16, and I look forward to seeing it become law.”
The FY 2019 THUD Appropriations Act provides $71.1 billion in discretionary spending for the U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and related agencies. The bill is $780 million above FY 2018 enacted levels. In drafting the legislation, the Committee, led by Senators Collins and Reed, received input from 70 Senators with more than 800 requests, all of which were carefully evaluated.
The bill provides funding for many programs that benefit Maine and are among Senator Collins’ highest priorities, including:
- BUILD Grants. The bill provides $900 million for BUILD Grants, previously known as TIGER, and requires at least 50 percent of the funding to benefit rural areas like Maine. Maine has received a TIGER grant award each year, totaling more than $160 million, since it was established in 2009.
- Highways. The bill provides $49.3 billion for critical highway infrastructure, an increase of $3.2 billion above the FAST ACT authorized level. $475 million of this increase is targeted to bridges in rural areas.
- Essential Air Service. The bill provides $175 million in discretionary spending combined with $140 million in mandatory “overflight fees” to support existing communities. Maine communities that receive EAS funding include Augusta/Waterville, Bar Harbor, Presque Isle/Houlton, and Rockland.
- State Maritime Academies. The bill provides $45.2 million for State Maritime Academies as well as an additional $300 million for a special purpose vessel to be used as a training school ship.
- Passenger Rail. The bill provides $50 million to improve safety of state-supported passenger rail service, including the Downeaster.
Housing and Urban Development
- Community Development Block Grants. The bill provides $3.3 billion for the Community Development Block Grant program, which helps state and local governments promote economic development and job creation.
- Funding set-aside for youth homelessness. The bill includes $80 million to support comprehensive efforts to end youth homelessness in urban and rural areas, as well as $20 million for new Family Unification vouchers targeted to youth exiting foster care and at risk of homelessness.
- Housing Vouchers for Homeless Veterans (VASH). The bill includes $40 million for new HUD-VASH vouchers to reduce veterans’ homelessness. Since the program was first established in 2008, Maine has received 238 vouchers to support homeless veterans.
- Increased funding for lead grants. The bill includes $279 million to combat lead hazards in homes where families with young children reside, which is $49 million above last year’s level. These grants will help communities protect children from the harmful effects of lead hazard poisoning. The bill also includes a new program to fund intensive interventions in communities with high incidences of lead poisoning and older housing stock, for which several cities and towns in Maine would be eligible.
- Housing for the Elderly. The bill includes $678 million for housing for seniors. Of this total, $51 million is for the development of new housing units for seniors. Additionally, the funding level includes $10 million for grants for home modifications to enable low-income seniors to “age-in-place’ and remain in their own homes, which is modeled after a program of the Bath Housing Authority.