Updated: House and Senate Release Stimululs Proposals -- Less Infrastructure $$ Than Hoped

In the past weeks the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have released drafts of the Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act, proposing about $825 billion of federal spending on energy infrastructure and efficiency, science research and broadband, transportation infrastructure, education and school repair, health care and Medicaid, unemployment benefits, and tax cuts.

The draft bills propose many worthwhile infrastructure investments, particularly in the areas of energy transmission, efficiency, and building retrofits, but the amounts proposed for transportation infrastructure fall considerably short of what we had hoped for when President-elect Obama promised the "largest investment in infrastructure since the National Highway System."

The House bill proposes about $43 billion for transportation infrastructure, including $30 billion for highway infrastructure, $9 billion for transit, $1.1 billion for intercity rail, and $3 billion for airport improvement grants.

The Senate bill, which was just released, proposes about the same amount for transportation, but apportioned differently -- $27 billion for highway improvements, $8.4 billion for transit, $5.5 billion for competitive grants to state and local governments for surface transportation investments, $1.1 billion for intercity passenger rail, and $1.3 billion for aviation. Though curiously not included in the Senate appropriations committee's press release, the draft Senate bill also includes an additional $2 billion in federal grants for a high-speed rail corridor program.

America 2050 is working with the Transportation for America Coalition, which is making a push to increase the level of funding for transit in the stimulus bill, include explicit "fix it first" stipulations, and include energy assistant grants (operating assistance) to transit agencies. A breakdown of the differences between the House Appropriations bill and the proposal by the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure are provided by T 4 America below.

One highlight is that the draft stimulus legislation includes a key accountability provision proposed by America 2050 in its December 16 statement on the stimulus, in which we called for the creation of a National Recovery and Renewal Council that would report directly to the White House and develop criteria and accountability measures for the distribution of federal funding. A new Recovery Act Accountability and Transparency Board would fulfill a similar role as the Council proposed by America 2050, providing oversight on spending, establishing a website with information on recovery spending, and providing early warning of problems.

Approps Proposal
T&I Proposal
T4America Proposal
Highway & Bridge Projects
$30 billion
$30.25 billion
$18 billion
Federal aid highway formula
$30 billion
National Park Road Funding
Indian Reservation Roads
$300 million
Park roads & Parkways
$250 million
Highway surface transportation & technology training
$20 million
Disadvantaged Business             Enterprises Bonding Assistance
$20 million
Transportation Enhancements (Bike & pedestrian projects)
$1.35 billion
Not specified; included in total highways & bridges
$1.22 billion
$9 billion
$12 billion
$14.08 billion
Capital Investment Grants (New transit construction through the New Starts Program)
$1 billion
$2.5 billion
$5.08 billion
Upgrades & Repair (overlap with Capital Assistance)
$2 billion
Capital Assistance (for purchase of buses and equipment; overlap with Upgrades & Repair)
$6 billion
$8 billion
Transit Urban & Rural Formula
$7.5 billion
Energy Assistance to Prevent Transit Layoffs & fare Increases
$2 billion
$1.8 billion
Amtrak & Intercity Rail
$1.1 billion
$5 billion
$2 billion
$800 million
$1.5 billion
High speed & intercity passenger rail
$300 million
$3.4 billion
Short-line Railroad Funding
$100 million
Total Roads
$30 billion
$30.25 billion
$18 billion
Percentage Roads
Total Transit, Rail, Bike & Pedestrian
$11.45 billion
$17 billion
$17.3 billion
Percentage Transit, Rail, Bike & Pedestrian