Committee Unanimously Passes FY2018 Transportation, Housing Appropriations Bill Coauthored by Senator Collins

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) announced today that the Appropriations Committee passed the FY18 Transportation and Housing Appropriations Act by a vote of 31-0. The bill prioritizes funding for critical transportation projects, community development initiatives, and core housing programs that serve the nation’s most vulnerable individuals. Senator Collins, the Chairman of the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations Committee, coauthored the legislation with Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-RI).

The bill provides $60.058 billion, $2.407 billion above FY2017 enacted levels, to fund the U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and related agencies.

The committee-passed bill places a priority on programs to improve the safety, reliability, and efficiency of the nation’s transportation system, including increased funding for the TIGER program. The measure also emphasizes rental assistance and community development, providing funding for the Community Development Block Grant, HOME, and other programs.

“This bipartisan bill is the product of considerable negotiation and compromise and makes the necessary investments in our nation’s infrastructure, helps to meet the housing needs of the most vulnerable among us, and provides funding for economic development projects that create jobs in our communities,” said Susan Collins, chairman of the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee. “Our bill strikes the right balance between thoughtful investment and fiscal restraint, thereby setting the stage for future economic growth.”

Bill Highlights:

Transportation – $19.47 billion in discretionary appropriations for the U.S. Department of Transportation for fiscal year 2018. This is $978 million above the FY2017 enacted level.

  • TIGER Grants – $550 million, $50 million above the FY2017 enacted level, for TIGER grants (also known as National Infrastructure Investments). Maine has received more than $120 million in TIGER funding since the program was created.
  • Highways – $45 billion from the Highway Trust Fund to be spent on the Federal-aid Highways Program, consistent with the FAST Act. The bill also continues to allow State Departments of Transportation to repurpose old, unused earmarks for important infrastructure projects.
  • Aviation – $16.97 billion in total budgetary resources for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), $563 million above the FY2017 enacted level. This will provide full funding for all air traffic control personnel, including more than 14,000 air traffic controllers, and more than 25,000 engineers, maintenance technicians, safety inspectors, and operational support personnel. The bill also provides $1.1 billion for the FAA Next Generation Air Transportation Systems (NextGen), and fully funds the Contract Towers program to help ease future congestion and help reduce delays for travelers in U.S. airspace. In addition, the bill rejects the proposed privatization of the air traffic control system and provides greater flexibilities for airports to make much-needed capacity improvements.
  • Fully funds the Essential Air Service program to continue service at: Augusta/Waterville, Bar Harbor, Presque Isle/Houlton, and Rockland airports.
  • Rockland airport will receive an additional $1 million from and Airport Improvement Program change.
  • The bill continues to provide $10 million for the Small Community Air Service Development Program, which Maine airports have benefited in prior years.
  • Rail – $1.974 billion for the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), $122 million above the FY2017 enacted level. This includes $1.6 billion for Amtrak for the Northeast Corridor and National Network, continuing service for all current routes. The bill also provides $250.1 million for FRA safety and operations, as well as research and development activities.
  • The bill also provides $92.5 million for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement grants program, of which $35.5 million is for initiation or restoration of passenger rail, $26 million for Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair grants, and $5 million for Restoration and Enhancement grants.
  • Transit – $12.129 billion for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), $285 million below the FY2017 enacted level. Transit formula grants total $9.733 billion, consistent with the FAST Act. The bill provides a total of $2.133 billion for Capital Investment Grants (“New Starts”), fully funding all current “Full Funding Grant Agreement” (FFGA) transit projects, which is $280 million below the FY2017 enacted level.
  • Maritime – $577.6 million for the Maritime Administration, $55 million above the FY2017 enacted level, to increase the productivity, efficiency and safety of the nation’s ports and intermodal water and land transportation. The Maritime Security Program is funded at $300 million. $50 million is provided for a new training vessel for the State Maritime Academies.
  • The bill includes $32 million for State Maritime Academies (SMAs), and an additional $50 million for the National Security Multi-Mission Vessel. This training ship is essential for the SMAs to continue to provide the nation with a strong merchant marine workforce.
  • Safety – The legislation contains funding for the various transportation safety programs and agencies within the U.S. Department of Transportation. This includes $908.6 million in total budgetary resources for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and $744.8 million for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Of this amount, $68 million is to complete the modernization of border facilities to improve inspections along the Southern border. The bill also includes $272 million for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to help address safety concerns related to recent pipeline and crude oil by rail accidents.

Housing and Urban Development (HUD) – $40.244 billion in discretionary appropriations for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, an increase of $1.4 billion above the FY2017 enacted level.

  • Rental Assistance – HUD rental assistance programs provide housing assistance for nearly 5 million vulnerable families and individuals. Of those receiving assistance, 57 percent are elderly or disabled. This bill provides necessary increases to continue assistance to all families and individuals currently served by these programs.
  • Included in the bill is: $21.365 billion for tenant-based Section 8 vouchers, $1.07 billion above the FY2017 enacted level; $6.45 billion for public housing, $103.5 million above the FY2017 enacted level; $11.5 billion for project-based Section 8, $691 million above the FY2017 enacted level; $573 million for Housing for the Elderly, $70.6 million above the FY2017 enacted level, and $147 million for Housing for Persons with Disabilities, nearly $1.0 million above the FY2017 enacted level.
  • Community Planning and Development – $6.85 billion for Community Planning and Development programs, $47 million above the FY2017 enacted level. The Community Development Block Grant formula program is funded at $3 billion; the Homeless Assistance Grants are funded at $2.456 billion; the HOME program is funded at $950 million; the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program is funded at $330 million.
  • Emphasis on Homelessness – $2.456 billion for homeless assistance programs and includes several provisions to improve HUD’s delivery of housing and services to address particularly vulnerable populations, including veterans, youth, and survivors of domestic violence. The bill provides $55 million to combat youth homelessness. The bill includes $20 million for new family unification vouchers to prevent youth exiting foster care from becoming homeless. This funding is important for organizations like the Maine State Housing Authority, which administers 115 FUP vouchers and is linking these vouchers with the Family Self Sufficiency program to help youth exiting foster care transition to avoid homelessness. An additional $55 million is provided for grants and technical assistance to test comprehensive efforts to end youth homelessness in urban and rural areas. In addition the bill provides $25 million for rapid rehousing assistance for domestic violence, and $40 million for new HUD-VASH vouchers, which have been critical to reducing veterans’ homelessness by 47 percent since 2010. Maine has 216 HUD VASH vouchers and has received new vouchers every year since 2010.
  • Preventing Lead Hazards – $160 million to combat lead hazards, $15 million above the FY2017 enacted level. Lead paint is prevalent in states with older housing stock like Maine, which makes this funding especially critical to help communities protect children from the harmful effects of lead hazard poisoning. In previous years, Lewiston, Portland and the Maine State Housing Authority have benefitted from these funds.