House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Rep. Norm Dicks made the following comments after release of the FY2013 Transportation, HUD Appropriations bill text:
"After reneging on the bipartisan Budget Control Act, Republican leadership decided to reserve the very worst austerity for domestic discretionary appropriations bills. I find it incredibly unfortunate that House Republicans still haven't abandoned their contradictory 'cut and grow' economic agenda, though leading economists and even Mitt Romney has stated that drastic austerity in the near term would undermine our fragile economic recovery.
"As we are witnessing in Europe, austerity is not working and shouldn't be replicated here.
"Due to House Republican infighting over the surface transportation bill and their unwillingness to compromise in conference negotiations, our Republican Majority has had to resort to place-holder language in this bill for several important transportation provisions, not least of which, the funding level for the federal highway program. The reckless partisan brinkmanship of House Republicans on this traditionally bipartisan infrastructure bill is appalling.
"Unemployment in the construction sector is at 14.2% at a time when our nation's roads and bridges are in desperate need of repairs.
"I'd encourage my Republican colleagues to take a lesson from the Appropriations Committee where we can still get our work done and where willingness to reach bipartisan compromise is still considered a virtue, not a flaw.
"This Transportation HUD bill doesn't have a sufficient allocation but I do appreciate that our Majority has made an effort to protect several important transportation and low-income housing programs.
"I strongly approve of the Majority's decision to fully fund the President's request for the vitally important Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program which provides much needed long-term housing to homeless veterans. With nearly 70,000 of our veterans homeless on any given night, this next round of 10,000 vouchers will move us forward in our goal of ending veterans' homelessness.
"The bill also provides a welcome increase to Amtrak which will help intercity passenger rail investments. It continues important investments in the FAA's NextGen air traffic control modernization effort. I also strongly support the Majority's decision to fully fund Community Development Block Grants at the President's request and sustain funding at current levels for Housing Counseling Assistance.
"However, not all programs have been spared. Capital Investment Grants, which fund subway, light rail and commuter rail systems, are $139 million below last year's level and $418 million below the budget request. No funds are provided for Choice Neighborhoods, which represents another lost opportunity to rebuild blighted public housing while putting construction workers back to work in struggling communities.
"In closing, I remain dedicated to working with my good friend, Chairman Rogers, to advance this year's appropriations bills and get our Committee back to regular order. We have already made significant progress on this year's appropriations bills and I hope we can maintain this momentum."
Below is a brief summary of funding levels in the FY2013 Transportation, HUD Appropriations bill
Total Allocation: $51.6 billion | -$3.94 billion below the FY2012 enacted level | -$1.87 billion below the President's FY2013 request.
Federal Highway Administration: The bill provides $39.9 billion total, equal to the FY2012 enacted level and -$2.7 billion below the President's request. This funding level is contingent on reauthorization.
Amtrak: The bill provides $1.8 billion total, $384 million above the FY2012 enacted level and $256 million above the President's request. Included within this amount is $500 million for a new 'state-of-good-repair' program to make infrastructure improvements to publicly-owned rail corridors that provide a joint benefit to intercity passenger rail and commuter rail, improving aging rail bridges and tunnels.
Federal Transit Administration: The bill provides $10.4 billion total, -$181 million below the FY2012 enacted level and -$364 million below the President's request. This funding level is contingent on reauthorization.
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority: The bill provides $150 million total, equal to the FY2012 enacted level and $15 million above the President's request.
Capital Investment Grants: The bill provides $1.817 billion total, -$418 million below the FY2012 enacted level and -$139 million below the President's request.
HOUSING & URBAN DEVELOPMENT
Community Development Block Grants: The bill provides $3.34 billion total, $400 million above the FY2012 enacted level and the President's request.
Homeless Assistance Grants: The bill provides $2 billion total, $100 million above the FY2012 enacted level and -$231 million below the President's request.
Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing: The bill provides $75 million total, equal to the FY2012 enacted level and the President's request.
Project Based Section 8: The bill provides $8.4 billion total, -$610 million below the FY2012 enacted level and equal to the President's request.
Housing Counseling Assistance: The bill provides $45 million total, equal to the FY2012 enacted level and -$10 million below the President's request.
PROGRAMS NOT FUNDED
Choice Neighborhoods: No funds are provided for this grant program that rebuilds blighted public housing projects. The President's FY13 budget request for Choice Neighborhoods is $150 million.
Sustainable Communities: No funds are provided for this grant program that provides funding for regional, interstate and interagency planning and works to coordinate public investments. The President's FY13 budget request for Sustainable Communities is $100 million.