FMCSA only DOT administration with increase in White House budget

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | 3/13/2019

President Donald Trump recently submitted his budget request for fiscal year 2020. Within the $4.7 trillion budget is a 22 percent reduction in the Department of Transportation discretionary budget. Other than the DOT Secretary’s office, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the only department reflecting an increase in funding.

On Monday, March 11, the White House published its FY2020 budget request, which outlines how the president wants Congress apportion funding. Of the 19 various departments receiving funding, Trump is seeking increases for only five of them.

Trump’s budget request includes $21.4 billion in discretionary funds for the U.S. Department of Transportation, nearly $6 billion less than the 2019 discretionary estimate. The budget also provides more than $62 billion in mandatory funds and obligation limitations.

Keeping with a proposal he introduced in February 2018, Trump is asking Congress to approve $200 billion for infrastructure investments. Trump has said before that $1 trillion is needed to fix the nation’s infrastructure. Instead of the government supplying 100 percent of the funding, Trump’s plan will only provide $200 billion, relying on state/local governments and private investments to pick up the rest.

House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., is not satisfied with Trump’s budget request.

“For starters, the president is recycling his already-rejected proposal to somehow turn $200 billion of federal investment into $1 trillion for badly needed projects,” DeFazio said in a statement. “On top of that, the president is proposing cutting the Department of Transportation’s discretionary funding by 22 percent, cutting half of EPA’s Clean Water infrastructure financing and drastically reducing funding for the clean water program, all while slashing the Army Corps’ budget by nearly a third.”

DeFazio said that the proposed budget “would shirk federal responsibility” in regards to infrastructure needs.

Transportation and Infrastructure Ranking Member Sam Graves, R-Mo., did not issue a statement following the release of the proposed budget.

Trump is also requesting $675.8 million for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, an increase of $9 million from the FY2019 enacted budget. Funding includes $288 million for safety operations and programs, an increase of $4 million, and $5 million increase for safety grants to $387.8 million.

Within FMCSA’s requested budget, more than $9 million will go toward research and technology and another $15.2 million for enforcement. More than $11 million will be used for developing and implementing regulations.

Addressing other safety programs, the proposed budget will give the Federal Highway Administration’s Highway Safety Improvement Program $2.7 billion. Nearly $1 billion will go toward the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In total, Trump is requesting $83.66 billion for the U.S. DOT, nearly $4 billion less than FY2019 or a 4.2 percent decrease.

Aside from FMCSA, the Office of the Secretary is the only department that may receive more money compared with the previous budget. Budget requests for DOT administrations include:

  • Federal Aviation Administration - $17.105 billion ($347 million decrease).
  • Federal Highway Administration - $47.404 billion ($1.8 billion decrease).
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration - $929 million ($37 million decrease).
  • Federal Transit Administration – $12.416 billion ($1 billion decrease).
  • Federal Railroad Administration - $2 billion ($892 million decrease).
  • Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration - $254.5 million ($19 million decrease).
  • Maritime Administration - $682.5 million ($433 million decrease).
  • Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation - $28 million ($8 million decrease).
  • Inspector General - $92.2 million (mostly unchanged).
  • Office of the Secretary - $2.492 billion ($1.105 billion increase).

Most of the Office of the Secretary increases come from Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grants. New to the DOT budget, Trump is requesting more than $1 billion for those grants.

Although FHWA is requested to receive increases in several operations, the large net decrease comes from a slash in funding for highway infrastructure programs. In the past year, more than $3 billion was allocated to that program. Trump’s budget calls for only $300 million funding, a decrease of nearly $3 billion which eliminates 90 percent of federal funding. More than half of FHWA’s budget will go toward the National Highway Performance Program to preserve and modernize the National Highway System. Another $2.5 billion is set aside for congestion mitigation.

More than $14 million of NHTSA’s funding will be for the safe development and deployment of automated vehicle technologies, including programs that support the testing and deployment of technologies for large trucks and buses that assist drivers in preventing crashes.

The White House budget is only a request by President Trump, giving Congress his wish list for federal spending. Ultimately, Congress has the power of the purse and is likely to make several changes when drafting the new budget.

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