Bill sets modest increase for FMCSA safety funding

| Tuesday, September 14, 2004

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.

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