On September 19, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4378, the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2020, known as the Continuing Resolution (CR) by a bipartisan vote of 301-123. The CR will keep the federal government funded through November 21, 2019. During the appropriations discussions, APTA has strongly advocated to block the Rostenkowski Test. H.R. 4378 states that the Rostenkowski Test cannot be conducted during the time period of the CR, temporarily preventing an impending $1.2 billion cut to public transit formula funds in fiscal year 2020. This 12 percent across-the-board cut would impact every public transit system across the country if triggered.
In addition, the CR contains a provision that modifies statutory requirements on the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) implementation of the Capital Investment Grants (CIG) program. In the 2018 and 2019 Consolidated Appropriations Acts, Congress required FTA to obligate 85 percent of CIG funding by December 31 of the following year (FTA was required to obligate $2.25 billion by December 31, 2019, and $2.16 billion by December 31, 2020). The CR changes the test from an obligation standard to an allocation standard. Under the CR, FTA must allocate $2.25 billion of CIG funds by December 31, 2019, and $2.17 billion by December 31, 2020. To date, FTA has met the requirement for December 2019.
White House Announces Support for Ban on Chinese Bus and Rail Rolling Stock Procurement
On September 4, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), on behalf of the White House, issued a letter of support for certain policies contained in S. 1790, the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020” (NDAA). In its statement, OMB expressed specific support for the Senate-passed provision (section 6015) that prohibits the use of federal public transit funding to procure both bus and rail rolling stock from an entity that is incorporated in or has manufacturing facilities in the United States and “is owned or controlled by, is a subsidiary of, or is otherwise related legally or financially to a corporation based in” China. The House-passed NDAA bill (H.R. 2500) applies the same test to rail rolling stock but not bus procurements.
The House and Senate have appointed a Conference Committee to resolve differences between the House- and Senate-passed NDAA bills. To view a Fact Sheet of the Chinese rolling stock procurement prohibitions in the Senate and House NDAA bills, please click here.
FTA Issues Funding Opportunity for Transit-Oriented Development Planning
On September 18, the FTA announced a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Planning of $19.2 million. This funding will be awarded competitively to support comprehensive planning associated with new fixed guideway and core capacity improvement projects, as mandated by law. To view the notice in the Federal Register, please click here.
On September 12, APTA joined 40 Coalition partners in a letter to House and Senate leadership calling on them to repeal Section 1438 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) (P.L. 114-94). Section 1438 rescinds $7.6 billion in Federal-aid highway contract authority on July 1, 2020. On September 22, 2018, APTA’s Board of Directors adopted a specific recommendation to repeal the FAST Act rescission. To view the Additional Recommendations to APTA’s Finance Principles adopted by the Board, please click here. To view the Coalition letter, please click here.
On September 16, APTA joined 16 Coalition partners in a letter to House and Senate Transportation Appropriations leaders supporting Section 192 of H.R. 3055, the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2020. Section 192 prevents the U.S. Department of Transportation from terminating the Cooperative Agreement issued in FY 2009 to support the California high-speed rail program and from re-allocating funds from the FY 2010 Cooperative Agreement for the project before the resolution of the litigation over the Department’s May 16, 2019 decision to terminate the Cooperative Agreement. To view the Coalition letter, please click here.