This Legislative Alert addresses a myriad of recent legislative and administrative actions, including:
- Senate Banking Committee Introduces Transit Rail Inspection Bill;
- Senate Rejects Rescissions Package;
- Request for Comments to Update NEPA Regulations;
- Notice of Funding Opportunity for Competitive Buses and Bus Facilities Program;
- Senate Committee Approves Homeland Security Appropriations Bill;
- House Passes Homeland Security Bills;and
- Administration Proposes to Transfer Homeland Security Programs to U.S. Department of Transportation.
Senate Banking Committee Introduces Transit Rail Inspection Bill
On June 26, Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-OH), together with Senator Tammy Duckworth(D-IL), introduced S. 3139, the “Transit Rail Inspection Practices Act” (or “TRIP Act”). The bill makes several changes to transit rail inspection requirements and the State Safety Oversight program. To view the Banking Committee summary,please click here. To view the bill, please click here. If you have comments regarding the bill, please contact Ward McCarragher, Vice President, Government Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senate Rejects Rescissions Package
On June 20, the Senate held a procedural vote to begin consideration of H.R. 3,the “Spending Cuts to Expired and Unnecessary Programs Act”, which failed by a vote of 48-50. This bill is an amended version of the Administration’s rescissions proposal which passed the House of Representatives earlier this month. H.R. 3 would have rescinded $100 million of prior-year public transit formula grants ($46.6 million) and intercity passenger rail competitive grants($53.4 million). For more information on this proposal, please see APTA’s June 8 Legislative Alert.
The Senate’s failure to pass the bill by June 22 results in the bill losing its special procedural status that allowed the Senate to pass the bill by a simple majority vote. Although the Senate could still consider H.R. 3, it is very unlikely that the Senate will pass the bill.
APTA recommends that the $100 million of prior-year funds by used as budget offsets to increase funding to address the current $90 billion state-of-good-repair backlog for bus and rail systems. The Senate Committee on Appropriations adopted this approach in S. 3023, the “Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019”. The Committee rescinded the $46.6 million of prior-year transit grants and reallocated these funds to other public transportation priorities.
Request for Comments to Update NEPA Regulations
On June 20, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) issued a notice in the Federal Register requesting comments on potential revisions to the implementing regulations for the procedural provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). In the notice,CEQ requests comments in response to 20 specific questions. Comments are due by July 20, 2018. To view the notice in its entirety, please click here.If you are interested in participating in APTA’s comment process, please contact Linda Ford, General Counsel, at email@example.com.
Notice of Funding Opportunity for Competitive Buses and Bus Facilities Program
OnJune 25, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for $366.3 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 funds for buses,bus facilities, and bus equipment. In the most recent round of Buses and Bus Facilities grants, which were announced in April, FTA awarded Buses and Bus Facilities grants using FY 2017 funds and$38 million of FY 2018 funds. The new NOFO allows applicants to request grants for the remainder of the competitive bus program. In total, Congress appropriated $408 million for the competitive Bus and Bus Facilities competitive grant program in FY 2018, which is $161 million (or 65 percent)more than the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act authorized level. Applications are due by August 6, 2018. To view the NOFO in its entirety, including eligibility and submission instructions, please click here.
Senate Committee Approves Homeland Security Appropriations Bill
On June 21, the full Senate Committee on Appropriations marked up S. 3109, the “Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act,2019” (and Committee report (S. Rpt. 115-283)), which was approved by the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee earlier that week. The full Committee approved the bill with a 26-5 vote. The bill provides for $55.2 billion for homelandsecurity programs, including border security, cybersecurity, aviation security,and state and local grants. Within this legislation, the bill provides $100million to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for public transportation, rail, and over-the-road bus security grants. Of the $100million, the bill sets aside $10 million for Amtrak and $2 million for over-the-road bus security grants. Public transportation agencies may apply for the remaining $88 million. This funding level is $64 million more than the President’s Budget request and equal to the FY 2018 enacted level. For more information on FEMA’s Transit Security Grant Program, please click here.
House Passes Homeland Security Bills
On June 25, the House of Representatives passed two homeland security bills that impact public transportation. The bills, which passed by voice vote, are:
H.R. 5766, the “Securing Public Areas of Transportation Facilities Act of 2018”, which directs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide technical assistance to owners and operators of surface transportation assets to help protect and enhance the resilience of public areas of the assets. The bill also requires DHS to publish best practices for protecting these public areas.In addition, the legislation establishes a working group to develop non-binding recommendations on enhancing security in public areas of transportation facilities. The bill requires DHS to report to Congress annually on the working group’s activities and recommendations. To view the bill, please click here.
H.R. 5081, the “Surface Transportation Security and Technology Accountability Act of 2018”, which directs the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to establish a Surface Transportation Security Advisory Committee,similar to TSA’s current Aviation Security Advisory Committee. The Surface Transportation Advisory Committee would be composed of members representing various surface transportation modes, including public transit and intercity passenger rail. The Committee would advise and make recommendations to the TSA Administrator on surface transportation security matters. The bill also modifies requirements for TSA’s biennial report to Congress on its five-year technology plan. To view the bill, please click here.
Administration Proposes to Transfer Homeland Security Programs to the U.S.Department of Transportation
On June 21, the Administration released its “Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century” proposal to reorganize certain functions of the federal government. The plan transfers two DHS functions to U.S. DOT. First,the plan transfers FEMA’s Transit Security Grant Program to FTA. Second, TSA currently spends approximately $129 million annually on assessing threats to surface transportation facilities, encouraging security planning and threat reporting,overseeing compliance with rail security regulations, and disseminating best-practice guidance to government agencies and the transportation industry.The proposal transfers these functions to DOT. To view the plan, please click here. The reorganization plan relating to DOT can be found beginning on page 71.