Federal highway programs will get $33.8 billion in fiscal 2004 under a spending bill approved July 24 by the House Appropriations Committee. Although an appropriations subcommittee earlier approved $34.5 billion in highway funds, the program still gains from the $31.6 billion allotted for the current year. The 2004 level is a $4.5-billion gain over the White House request.

The $89.3-billion bill that funds the Transportation and Treasury departments includes $3.4 billion for the Airport Improvement Program; another $7.23 billion for transit programs; and $900 million for Amtrak.

After earlier subcommittee approval the bill appeared stalled, but the looming month-long August recess proved a "motivating factor" for lawmakers, said one transportation lobbyist.