Hoeven: Senate Transportation, HUD Appropriations Bill Approved by Committee Includes Hoeven Amendment

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator John Hoeven today announced that the Senate Appropriations Committee, on which he serves, has approved the $56.5 billion Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act (THUD). The measure supports transportation and housing infrastructure, including air, rail and highway safety, as well as housing and community development programs.

Importantly for North Dakota, the legislation includes a provision that Hoeven authored to help existing airports, like Williston’s Sloulin Field International, that are in critical need of expansion and relocation due to their essential economic impact on their surrounding communities, but are unable to grow their current facilities because of various physical constraints. The measure directs the FAA to ensure sufficient funding is available to relocate these airports in a timely and expedited manner.

“This bill makes vital investments in our nation’s transportation infrastructure, including the need to accommodate for growth,” Hoeven said. “Securing funding to help expand and relocate facilities like Williston’s Sloulin Field Airport will provide a valuable asset to the region and its economy for decades to come.”

Additional Important Provisions in the THUD Bill

? Transportation – $16.9 billion in discretionary appropriations for the U.S. Department of Transportation. Within this amount, funding is prioritized on programs to make transportation systems safe, efficient and reliable.
• TIGER Grants – $525 million for TIGER grants, also known as National Infrastructure Investments. These grants were used for the Devils Lake Amtrak upgrade, as well as Minot’s 55th St. Northeast Bypass and transportation infrastructure projects at Fort Berthold to accommodate economic growth.
• Highways – $44 billion from the Highway Trust Fund for the Federal-aid Highways Program, consistent with the recently-enacted surface transportation authorization bill, the FAST Act. The bill continues to allow state departments of transportation to repurpose old, unused funding for more important infrastructure projects.
• FAA - Aviation – $16.4 billion in total budgetary resources for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This will provide funding for air traffic control personnel, maintenance technicians, safety inspectors, and operational support personnel. The bill also provides $1 billion for the FAA Next Generation Air Transportation Systems (NextGen), and fully funds the Contract Towers program to help ease future congestion and help reduce delays for travelers in U.S. airspace.
• Unmanned aircraft systems research – The bill provides $18.4 million for UAS research, of which $10 million is provided for the UAS Center of Excellence. The bill directs that the FAA and the Center of Excellence use the UAS test sites when conducting their research. The bill also includes language Hoeven requested directing the FAA to use the test sites and the Center of Excellence for specific research projects including research into unmanned traffic management systems in coordination with NASA, UAS data link security, and counter UAS technologies.
• Rail – The bill provides $334 million for rail safety and research programs to fund inspectors and provide training to help ensure the safety of passengers and local communities. The bill also provides funding to help implement Positive Train Control (PTC), enhance passenger rail safety, reduce highway-rail grade crossings incidents and address the state of good repair backlog.
• Transit – $12.3 billion for the Federal Transit Administration, $575 million above Fiscal Year 2016 enacted level. The bill provides $9.7 billion for transit formula grants, consistent with the FAST Act.
• Transportation Safety – The bill contains funds various transportation safety programs and agencies. This includes $891 million for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; $644 million for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and $259 million for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to help address safety concerns.

? Housing and Urban Development (HUD) – $39.2 billion for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
• Community Planning and Development – $6.7 billion for Community Planning and Development programs, including $3 billion for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) formula program.
• Emphasis on Youth Homelessness – The bill includes $20 million to support family unification vouchers to prevent youth from becoming homeless after exiting foster care.
• Section 8 and Public Housing – $27.9 billion for Public and Indian Housing. This funding continues assistance to all families and individuals currently served by these programs.

Other assisted-housing programs within the bill are funded at $11.6 billion for rental assistance, elderly housing and housing for persons with disabilities.