News Flash

Federal Government

Posted on: March 26, 2021

The House Announces Federal Community Projects Process

The House Appropriations Chair Rep. Rosa DeLauro announced that they will be accepting Members of Congress’ requests for Community Project Funding in appropriations bills for the upcoming 2022 fiscal year. This announcement is the first move in the 117th Congress to open up the process for the reincarnated Congressional “earmark” funding process.

Additionally, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (OR) and Chair of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC) announced the Committee will provide an opportunity for Members of Congress to submit requests for highway and transit project designations under a new formal process. Project submissions will likely be due by April by Members of Congress and will be done in conjunction with the reauthorization of the FAST Act.

The FAST Act is due in Committee by May and is anticipated to be before Congress by September. The total of project designations may be around 3-6% of the transportation bill, but we will know more soon.

 The 117th Congress has written a new set of rules that would allow them to go after key priorities, like COVID-19 relief, climate, as well as revive Congressionally directed spending on projects – known as “earmarks.”

This is a new opportunity, although with a quick timeline, for municipal project funding. More details will be forthcoming but we would suggest you start planning now. Congress members must provide evidence of community support as one of the compelling factors in their decision to select the requested projects.

There will be specific guardrails to prevent excesses that occurred prior to the elimination of earmarks about 15 years ago. They include: Congress members must submit written request, which will be posted online, early public disclosure, ban on for-profit recipients, a cap on overall funding at no more than 1% of discretionary spending, and Congress members are limited to 10 requests, although the number of projects that receive funding will be less than that.

The committee will require the Government Accountability Office to audit a sample of enacted community project funding and report to Congress.

The League’s partner, the National League of Cities has a guide for Transportation Project Designations Process and Timeline that are a good reference point. Further guidance will be provided as it is available. In the meantime, we strongly suggest you review this funding opportunity with your administrator, engineer and public works department to plan what funding for transportation projects you would like to request as well as reach out to your Congressional representatives.

Contact: Paul Penna, Legislative Analyst, ppenna@njlm.org, 609 695-3481, x110.

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