A Senate subcommittee has moved
forward a 2005 spending bill for the Department of Transportation that would
set a $34.9 billion ceiling on highway obligations.
The Senate Transportation and Treasury
Appropriations Subcommittee reported the bill out Sept. 9; it also provides
$7.76 billion for transit programs.
The bill set highway safety funding at
$453 million, a slight increase of about $5 million over the House proposal.
Reportedly, the Senate draft bill would eliminate general funding for safety
programs, taking the entire amount from the Highway Trust Fund.
Meanwhile, it remains murky as to
whether the agreement might hold the key to unlocking the stalemate that has
prevented a six-year bill.
Under the bill, the Federal Motor
Carrier Safety Administration would see a $12 million increase to $450 million,
with motor carrier safety grants set at $190 million.
In the meantime, transit funding would
see an increase of $492 million over the current year to a level of $7.758
billion. That funding includes $4.007 billion for formula grants and $3.4
billion for capital grants.
In addition, the Senate bill would
continue Amtrak funding at close to current levels of $1.217 billion, an
increase of $317 million over the House bill. Also included in the Federal
Railroad Administration funding is $140 million for safety and operations, $35
million for research and development, $20 million for next-generation
high-speed rail and $25 million for the Alaska railroad.
Aviation funding would be set at $13.9
billion. That includes $7.78 billion for operations and $2.5 billion for
facilities and equipment. The operations figure is $300 million less than the
current fiscal year and the amount for facilities and equipment is another
substantial reduction from current funding. The Airport Improvement Program
would be funded at $3.5 billion, which is $117 more than the current fiscal
year program of $400 million.
The full House was expected to bring
up the FY 2005 appropriations bill Wednesday, Sept. 15.