It took a while, but a 2019 spending package was finally approved by Congress, signed by President Trump, and enacted February 15. In addition to the $1.375 billion for southwest border barriers, the package also includes full-year 2019 funding levels for important federal infrastructure programs, including the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Engineering News-Record reports.
The 2019 package is the second year of a two-year, bipartisan House-Senate budget deal that included a pledge to raise overall federal infrastructure spending by $20 billion over 2017 levels. It sets the federal-aid highway obligation ceiling at $45.3 billion, up $1 billion, or 2 percent, from 2018 and equal to the amount authorized in the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), which comes from the Highway Trust Fund.
The legislation also contains $3.25 billion more from the general fund for highways, up from $2.525 billion in 2018. A 2019 “bonus” amount includes $2.73 billion for states, up from $1.98 billion in 2018, and $475 million for bridge replacement and rehabilitation, more than double the 2018 amount.
Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grants received $900 million for 2019, down 40 percent from 2018, but it was not discontinued as President Trump suggested. The program was originally called Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER.
The Federal Transit Administration will receive $13.4 billion for 2019, down $67 million from 2018, with transit formula grants getting $9.9 billion and capital investment grants receiving $2.5 billion, down from $2.6 billion in 2018. An additional $700 million, down from $834 million in 2018, goes for transit infrastructure grants, which include bus facilities and “state of good repair” projects.
The Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program was frozen at 2018’s $3.35 billion, an amount that comes from the Airport and Airway Trust Fund. Lawmakers also tapped the general fund for an additional $500 million in FAA discretionary airport grants, down 50 percent from 2018.
The EPA’s water infrastructure account will receive $3.6 billion, a 1 percent increase over 2018 levels. Clean Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs) will receive $1.7 billion and Drinking Water SRFs will get $1.2 billion.