Some, but far from all, federal infrastructure and construction programs would gain increases under congressional spending measures covering the rest of fiscal year 2020. The two-package legislation emerged from negotiations between Senate and House appropriators. The House passed the bills on Dec. 17. The Senate was expected to follow suit by Dec. 21, when a stopgap spending bill was to lapse.
Construction accounts fare unevenly under the new bills. At the Dept. of Transportation, the highway obligation limit is set at $46.4 billion, up 2% from 2019. Lawmakers also allocated $2.23 billion for discretionary highway programs, down 33% from 2019. Of the $2.2 billion, bridge reconstruction would get $1.15 billion. DOT’s popular BUILD, formerly TIGER, grants would get $1 billion, up 11% from this year.
The Federal Transit Administration didn’t do well. Appropriators pared FTA’s overall budget 4%, to $12.9 billion. Of that sum, Capital Investment Grants, which fund new transit starts, would get $2 billion, a 22% cut. Federal Aviation Administration Airport Improvement Program infrastructure grants’ obligation limit would be frozen at $3.35 billion. Lawmakers continued a separate discretionary airport grants program, but trimmed it 20%, to $400 million.
Appropriators boosted core military construction funds 10%, to $11.3 billion. Lawmakers provided $1.375 billion for border barriers, the same as in 2019. But they blocked President Trump from retroactively “backfilling” funds for military construction projects from which he shifted dollars to the wall earlier this year. The bills do not change other DOD transfer authorities, however.
The Corps of Engineers civil works program scored a 9% increase, to $7.65 billion. That includes $2.68 billion for the construction account, a 23% hike. Environmental Protection Agency water infrastructure funding would rise 3%, to $4.25 billion.