President Bush’s fiscal year 2009 budget proposal for the Dept. of Transportation is getting a cold welcome in the Senate. Bush proposed slicing DOT spending by $2.1 billion, including reductions in the highway obligation ceiling and airport grants. But the Senate Budget Committee cleared a budget resolution March 6 that has $3.9 billion more than Bush seeks for major DOT accounts.

The resolution isn’t binding, but appropriations bills are, and key Senate appropriators don’t like Bush’s DOT numbers either. Transportation appropriations subcommittee Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said March 6 that cuts in roads, airports and Amtrak “would be devastating” and termed Bush’s proposal “unacceptable.” The subcommittee’s top Republican, Christopher Bond (Mo.), called the $2-billion reduction “a nonstarter.”