UPDATED 3/12/24: President Joe Biden’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2025 is just the opening round for what is likely to be a long, hyper-partisan election-year battle over federal spending.

But Biden's budget request, sent to Congress on March 11, does outline his priorities. And it is clear from the numbers for two key construction agencies, the U.S. Dept. of Transportation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, that heavy infrastructure spending remains high on his list.

For example, for the U.S. DOT, the request adheres to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) levels for the core highway and transit formula categories. 

That includes $62.1 billion for the highway obligation limit and $14.3 billion for transit formula funding. Both represent increases over amounts contained in the newly enacted 2024 appropriations measure–about 3% for highways and 2% for transit.

The Federal Transit Administration also would get $2.4 billion for the Capital Investment Grants program, which funds new rail and bus rapid transit starts. That sum is about the same as the enacted 2024 level and is supplemented by $1.6 billion from the IIJA.

FTA is recommending dividing the roughly $4 billion for the grants among 14 large projects. The largest award is $700 million for the proposed Hudson Tunnel Project, a rail megaproject to link New York and New Jersey.

Paul Skoutelas, American Public Transportation Association president and CEO, in a statement praised Biden's budget for continuing the support for transit and passenger rail provided by the IIJA.

New $8B FAA Facilities Program

At a DOT budget briefing, Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg highlighted a proposed new five-year, $8-billion program to upgrade Federal Aviation Administration towers, other facilities and radar systems. The 2025 share of the envisioned program is $1 billion.

FAA Administrator Michael Whitaker said at the briefing that improvements are needed. “The FAA owns more than 350 air traffic control facilities and they’re all old," he said.

Corps Budget Funds 20 Projects 

For the Corps of Engineers civil works program, the budget proposes $7.22 billion, down slightly from the $7.26 billion for 2024 in the new appropriations package.

"The budget continues to prioritize the highest performing work within the three main missions of the army Civil Works program, commercial navigation, flood and storm damage reduction and aquatic ecosystem restoration," Michael Connor, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, said in a briefing.

Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon, the Army’s Chief of Engineers, said in an online briefing that the budget request includes more than $2 billion for the construction account. He said the plan includes funding for 20 construction projects, of which three are in the commercial navigation category, eight are for flood and storm damage reduction and eight are for aquatic ecosystem restoration. 

The largest allocations are: $500 million for construction of a fish-passage facility at the Howard Hanson Dam in Washington state; $444 million for the South Florida ecosystem restoration program, including work in the Everglades; $280 million for the Rough River Lake dam safety project in Kentucky; and $264 million for the Soo Lock replacement in Michigan.

Military Construction, VA Major Projects

Among other construction programs, the budget recommends $17.5 billion for military construction, down 6% from the enacted 2024 level; for Dept. of Veterans Affairs major construction projects, the 2025 request is $2.1 billion, more than double the 2024 total of $961 million. Major VA projects are those whose cost exceeds $30 million.

Zero for GSA New Federal Buildings, $1.6B for Upgrades.

For General Services Administration federal buildings, the budget has zero for construction and acquisition of facilities. The agency budget document says the reason is that "GSA's FY 2025 budget request prioritizes repair and alteration projects."  The request has $1.6 billion for that account, including $584 million for major upgrades and $534 million for "special emphasis programs," such as fire protection and life-safety and capital security improvements for buildings for the judiciary.

The largest of the major repairs projects is at the Ralph H. Metcalfe Federal Building in Chicago. The allocation for that project is $162 million.

At the Dept. of Energy, the request for energy efficiency and renewable energy is $3.1 million, down 10% from 2024's $3.5 billion.

The 2025 proposal for DOE's defense environmental clean up program is $7.28 billion compared with the enacted 2024 mark of $7.06 billion.

Still Unfinished: Fiscal 2024 Spending Bills

The wrangling over the 2025 budget will be on the back burner for a while for congressional appropriators because they have yet to finish work on all of the spending bills for 2024.

Lawmakers did pass, and Biden signed, an appropriations package, including 2024 funding for DOT, the Corps and several other major infrastructure departments and agencies.

Still pending, however, is a second appropriations package. It includes some construction programs, such as for the General Services Administration federal buildings, and is due to expire on March 22. If lawmakers can't agree on a new measure carrying appropriations through Sept. 30, they will likely have to turn to a temporary stopgap.

Story updated on 3/12/2024 to include numbers for military construction, VA, GSA, DOE.