As appropriations bills for fiscal year 2007 advance on Capitol Hill, only a handful of infrastructure programs are posting increases, with gainers clustered mostly in transportation. In the latest action, the Senate Appropriations Committee on July 20 approved four 2007 bills, and included hikes in highway, transit and airport accounts.

David Bauer, American Road & Transportation Builders Association senior vice president for government relations, attributes transport programs� relative success in fiscal 2007 to their user-fee financing and protections in last year�s Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Equity Act�a Legacy for Users and the 2003 �Vision 100� aviation statute. He says the numbers �fundamentally underscore the importance of the SAFETEA-LU and Vision 100 funding guarantees and the fact that these are dedicated-revenue supported programs.�

How Construction Programs Fare in Senate Bills
($ millions)

FY 2006
FY 2007
FY 2007
Highway obligation limit 35,672 39,086 39,086
Federal Transit Administration 8,505 8,975 8,975
FAA airport grants 3,515 3,700 3,520
GSA construction 792 374 108
GSA repairs/alterations 936* 866 866
DOD family housing construction 2,200* 1,999 2,009
DOD base realignment/closure 1,742 5,526 5,428
DOD other construction 7,634* 6,051 6,508
VA major construction 1,561* 284 429
*includes emergency supplemental funding.
Sources: Senate, House Appropriations Committees

But Bauer notes that the Senate panel did not match the House�s $3.7-billion mark for airport construction grants and was $100 million below the House�s level for Federal Transit Administration capital grants.

In buildings and facilities accounts, �the Senate�s a little higher than the House,� says Karen Bachman, Associated General Contractors� director of government affairs for environment, federal markets and procurement. The Senate panel�s $708 million for General Services Administration construction is 89% above the House�s. Both bills have $179 million to continue a new Food and Drug Administration complex in Silver Spring, Md. The Senate committee added $127 million for a Jackson, Miss., courthouse.

For VA, both bills provide $98 million for seismic-related work at Long Beach, Calif., facilities. The Senate panel also has $40 million for an ambulatory care building in Pittsburgh.