The House and Senate passed the Conference Report on a package of three appropriations bills, including the Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies (THUD) Appropriations bill, on Thursday.
The Conference Committee approved the bill by a vote of 38-1. The House passed the bill 298-121, while the Senate approved it with a vote of 70-30. The bill was signed by the President on Friday, completing work on the FY 2012 budget for the Department of Transportation.
Included in the Conference Report is an extension of the current FY 2012 Appropriations Continuing Resolution (CR), which was set to expire Friday, Nov. 18. Congress needed to act to pass the extension to avoid a potential government shutdown of those agencies not included in the three-bill "minibus" package.
The conference report provides a total of $10.6 billion in FY 2012 funding for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), a 3% increase over FY 2011 funding levels. Increased funding was provided to the Formula and Bus Grant programs, which will receive $8.3 billion, an $18 million increase, as well as the New Starts Capital Investment Grant Program, which is funded at $1.9 billion in FY 2012, a $358 million increase over the FY 2011 level.
The bill also includes legislative language limiting the federal share for FTA New Starts projects to 60%, up from 50% proposed in the House version of the bill. The bill also retains language contained in the Senate version directing bus rapid transit (BRT) projects to be funded under the Bus and Bus Facilities program rather than the New Starts program.
On the rail side, the bill provides $1.6 billion in FY 2012 for Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) programs. Despite an amendment in the Senate that provided $100 million for high-speed and intercity passenger rail grants, the conference report zeroed out FY 2012 funding for this program. Funding for Amtrak capital grants was set at $952 million, a $30 million increase from the previous year's funding level, as well as $466 million for Amtrak operating Grants — a significant decrease from the FY 2011 enacted level of $562 million.