Posts Tagged ‘U.S. House of Representatives’

House Passes Infrastructure Bill

November 8, 2021

The House of Representatives late Friday approved the $1.2 trillion Investment in Infrastructure and Jobs Act, which contains $550 billion for new infrastructure funding. That includes $66 billion for railroads and $39 billion for public transit.

Much of the rail funding is expected to go to Amtrak for capital projects, including the procurement of new passenger rolling stock.

In a statement,  Amtrak CEO William Flynn said the bill will enable Amtrak to move forward on infrastructure and station work in the Northeast Corridor, purchasing new passenger equipment and developing new rail corridors.

The public transit funding is expected to be used to improve infrastructure to make transit faster and more reliable.

Passage of the bill was not assured until the last hour before the vote. Infighting among majority Democrats has held up a vote in the House for the past two months. The Senate approved the bill in August.

Voting for the bill was largely along party line with most Democrats in favor and most Republicans opposed. However, 13 Republicans voted in favor of the bill while six Democrats voted against it.

Congress Moves to Keep Federal Funding Flowing in FY2021, Extend Transportation Authoritzation

September 23, 2020

Congress took the first step on Tuesday toward approving a continuing resolution to keep federal funding moving past the end of federal fiscal year 2020, which concludes Sept. 30.

The House of Representatives approve a continuing resolution on a 359-57 vote.

Included in the measure was a one-year extension of the current surface transportation law, which also expires on Sept. 30.

The extension will assure continue federal funding of highway construction projects as well as public transit and Amtrak.

However, the action by Congress this week also likely means that for now there will be no additional money for Amtrak and the carrier’s plans to reduce the frequency of operation of most long-distance trains to less than daily service will be implemented in October as planned.

Rail passenger advocates had fought to more than double Amtrak funding for FY2021 in order to preserve daily service on most of those routes.

The advocates had been urging Congress to approve additional emergency aid for Amtrak and public transit in another COVID-19 pandemic aid bill.

But political differences have sunk additional pandemic assistance for now, including more aid for the airline industry.

The continuing resolution approved by the House now moves to the Senate where approval is expected.

The resolution also includes provisions to bolster the Highway Trust Fund, including a transfer of $13.6 billion from the general fund.

That includes $10.4 billion to the trust fund’s highway account and $3.2 billion for its transit account.

The House bill also includes a $14 billion transfer to the Airport and Airway Trust Fund from the general fund.

Paul Skoutelas, American Public Transportation Association chief executive officer, said the House action would provide at least $12.6 billion for transit in FY2021,

The continuing resolution will continue federal funding through Dec. 11, meaning that action on FY2021 spending is being deferred into the lame duck session of Congress after the Nov. 3 elections.

It is possible that additional Amtrak and transit funding might be taken up then.

House Passes Transportation Funding in Budget Bill

August 1, 2020

The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday approved a federal fiscal year budget package that includes $10 billion in funding for Amtrak and $24 billion for public transit.

The legislation includes language that prohibits Amtrak from further furloughs of its work force, directs the intercity rail passenger carrier to maintain daily frequency of service on routes that have it now, and includes a mandate that passengers and employees wear masks on trains, planes, and large transit systems.

The budget bill was approved on a vote of 217 to 197 and now goes to the Senate, which has yet to introduce draft appropriations bills for the next fiscal year which begins on Oct. 1.

The Senate is still trying to approve a COVID-19 pandemic relief package that includes $10 billion in emergency aid for airports but no emergency funding for Amtrak or public transportation.

If the Senate fails to approve an FY2021 budget bill Congress may keep the federal government operating by passing one or more continuing resolutions.

It is unclear at this point what that would mean for Amtrak’s plans to reduce the operation of most long distance passengers trains to tri-weekly on Oct. 1.

APTA Critical of Senate Relief Bill

July 29, 2020

A $1 trillion pandemic relief bill introduced in the Senate on Monday has drawn the ire of the American Public Transportation Association because it contains no funding for public transit systems.

The trade group released a statement noting that a $3 trillion relief act approved earlier by the House of Representatives contained $15.75 billion for transit.

APTA President Paul P. Skoutelas said the Senate bill “ignores the dire situation facing the public transportation industry and the vital role public transit has played during the pandemic.”

He said that included providing transportation for essential employees to get to work.

Skoutelas called for Congress to approve at least $32 billion in emergency transit funding.

The Senate bill is seen by political observers as an opening bid in negotiations with the House over a pandemic relief package.