Thanks to the leadership provided by Committee Chair and New Jersey Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen, late last week, the House Appropriations Committee passed the Federal Fiscal Year 2019 Transportation-Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill. One of 12 appropriations bills that will fund federal programs and services in the Fiscal Year beginning in October 1, this legislation includes funding for the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and other related agencies.
“For too long, the transportation infrastructure in our nation has been neglected, which has dampened growth and efficiency. This bill will provide a much-needed boost in funding for improvements in our infrastructure system–whether it is roads, bridges, rail, bus, air travel, or waterways. I’m particularly pleased to see funding in the bill that will support the Northeast Corridor by modernizing and maintaining the safety of one of the busiest and most economically vital systems in the world,” said Chairman Frelinghuysen. “It also supports core community and housing programs to ensure shelter for our most vulnerable citizens, to expand economic opportunities for our local communities, and to improve the towns and cities that Americans call home.”
The FY ’19 provides $3.2 billion for various rail programs, $62.5 million over current funding levels and $2.1 billion above the President’s budget request.
The legislation provides significant funding for critical Northeast Corridor rail infrastructure with $500 million in the Rail State of Good Repair account, an increase of $250 million above current levels. Amtrak is funded $1.9 billion, with $650 million dedicated to the Northeast Corridor account.
“This includes funding that can be used for the Gateway Project, which is not just critical to New York and New Jersey but to the entire country,” said Congressman Frelinghuysen. “I worry greatly about the possibility of a catastrophe in one of the tunnels–the security and economic implications of which would ripple across the nation. So, the benefits of the Gateway Project exceed state lines and party lines. As I told Secretary Chao, the Administration’s opposition to this project is baffling, and frankly, unacceptable. So I am very, very glad to see that this bill provides the funds needed to move this project forward, and I urge Secretary Chao not to stand in the way of such an important investment that truly puts America first.”
The legislation also provides $390 million for Section 811 housing vouchers for non-elderly, disabled persons, an increase of $283 million above the President’s request. These “Frelinghuysen Vouchers” provide new housing opportunities for persons with disabilities. This funding will support existing voucher holders and serve 30,000 additional non-elderly disabled households.
The Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) program, a program proposed for elimination by the Administration, is funded at $3.3 billion, the same as current levels. CDBG is a flexible program that provides communities in New Jersey with resources to address a wide range of unique community development needs.
In total, the bill reflects an allocation of $71.8 billion in discretionary spending, $1.5 billion above the fiscal year 2018 enacted level and $23.8 billion above the request. The allocation reflects the second year of the bipartisan budget agreement, and again targets resources to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, including airports, roads, bridges, and rail.
The legislation still faces a number of hurdles. Please thank Congressman Frelinghuysen for his work and please urge your federal legislators to urge their colleagues and the Administration to support this bill.
Contact: Jon Moran, Senior Legislative Analyst, firstname.lastname@example.org, 609-695-3481, Ext. 121.