By Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth
Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, more commonly referred to as the FY 2018 omnibus.
NCSL Natural Resource and Infrastructure Committee staff compiled the summaries below covering transportation and energy. Other federal departments will be covered in a subsequent post.
DOT would receive $27.3 billion in discretionary funding, $8.7 billion above enacted Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 levels, a result of an additional $10 billion in “infrastructure” funding included in the budget agreement earlier this year.
For highway programs, the bill provides $45 billion from the Highway Trust Fund, $1 billion above the FY 2017 levels, to five major federal highway formula programs, which matches the authorized levels in the 2015 FAST Act.
In addition, the bill provides an extra $2.5 billion in discretionary highway funding that will be allocated through the existing formula grant programs. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) will receive $947 million, $36 million over the FY 2017 levels, while the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is appropriated $845 million, $201 million above FY 2017.
Federal Transit Administration (FTA) programs are scheduled to receive $13.5 billion, $1 billion above FY 2017. Within this total, transit formula grants will provide $9.7 billion which also matches the levels authorized in the FAST Act.
In addition to FAST Act programs, the bill provides an additional $834 million in transit infrastructure grants compared to FY 2017 including $400 million in grants to help modernize local bus systems, and $400 million for capital assistance to transit systems across the country to maintain a “state of good repair.”
For rail infrastructure, the bill provides $3.1 billion, $1.2 billion over the FY 2017. Of that total, $1.9 billion is set aside for Amtrak, of which $650 million is for Northeast Corridor grants and $1.3 billion is to suport the national network. Rail safety and research programs are funded at $287 million, $29 million over FY 2017. The bill also includes $250 million for grants to rail operators to install and implement positive train control (PTC) technologies.
The bill also includes a six-month extension of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorization through the end of FY 2018, to provide additional time to approve a full reauthorization. Both the House and Senate are anticipated to approve their own version before the August recess with a conference bill approved before the end of FY 2018.
Additionally, the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Program will receive $1.5 billion, a $1 billion increase compared to FY 2017. TIGER grants are competitively awarded by DOT (FY 2017 awards were announced earlier this month) and provide funding to states’ and local governments. At least 30 percent of the awards must go to rural communities.
Overall, DOE will receive $34.5 billion, a $3.77 billion increase over FY 2017. Energy programs would receive $12.9 billion, $1.6 billion above FY 2017.
Within these funds, the department’s fossil program is slated to receive $727 million, up $59 million from FY 2017, while the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), and the Office of Nuclear Energy, would get $2.3 billion and $1.2 billion, respectively. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission would also receive $909 million, $4 million above FY 2017 levels.
DOE’s science research programs would receive $6.26 billion, $868 million above FY 2017. Of particular note, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which the administration wanted to eliminate, would receive $353.3 million. Additionally, DOE’s cybersecurity programs would receive $248 million, an increase of $18 million.
The bill provides $3.6 billion in formula grants for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). LIHEAP is an assistance program that helps low income households pay for heating or cooling in their homes, the program aids in managing costs associated with home energy bills, energy crises, weatherization, and energy-related minor home repairs.
Ben Husch is senior committee director of NCSL's Natural Resources and Infrastructure committee. Kristen Hildreth is a policy specialist with NCSL's National Resources and Infrastructure Committee.