ARTBA Updates: Path Forward on Government Funding Remains Elusive
Sunday, September 24, 2023
Section: Legislative Update

What happened: House Republicans have yet to advance a short-term government funding bill, known as a continuing resolution (CR), with just a week remaining before federal spending runs out at the end of the Fiscal Year (FY) Sept. 30.  Instead, a group of Republicans insist the House take up individual FY2024 appropriations bills next week, which have zero likelihood of enactment before the deadline.  House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) tried to advance a CR earlier in the week but was stymied by members of his own caucus.
What it means for transportation: The Highway Trust Fund and the unique structure of how federal highway and transit programs are paid for largely insulates most federally supported transportation construction programs during a shutdown.  Learn more.  

What’s next: The Senate is likely to pass and send to the House a bipartisan short-term CR to keep the government open, while work on FY2024 appropriations bills continues.  This will force McCarthy to either jeopardize his speakership by putting the bipartisan Senate proposal on the floor for a vote over objection from some in his party - or shut down the federal government.
The authorization law for federal aviation programs also expires Sept. 30 and must be extended by Congress next week. While details are not yet available, an extension of current law will likely be included in the CR package the Senate is preparing.
Road and Bridge Improvements Receive $5 Billion in Year-One of IIJA Discretionary Grant Program
What happened: ARTBA analyzed the first year of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) discretionary grant awards and found more than 70 percent — over $5 billion - went to road and bridge projects.  The IIJA provides the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) $45 billion in discretionary grants and other allocated programs over five years.
ARTBA tailored its analysis to grant programs its members would likely be involved in.  The report also suggests areas for improvement in the law’s remaining years.
Why it matters:  Discretionary grant awards allow the Biden administration to select awardees from state, county and local-level applicants that fit the parameters for each program.  While the vast majority of IIJA funds are distributed via formula, grant awards are an important supplement to planned state investments.