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American ShipperIntermodal

Endangered species: TIGER on the chopping block in new House spending bill

Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants, issued annually, are given to multi-modal and multi-jurisdictional projects that are difficult to fund through traditional federal highway aid programs.

   The U.S. House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee has approved a proposed a fiscal year 2018 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development funding bill that would eliminate the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program.
   The legislation includes funding for the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and other related agencies, but would completely eliminate TIGER grants, which are given to multi-modal and multi-jurisdictional projects that are difficult to fund through traditional federal highway aid programs that follow strict formulas for disbursing money to state transportation departments.
   The grants are funded at $500 million during the current fiscal year. The Trump administration initially floated the idea of eliminating the program in its proposed FY 2018 budget, a position that was strongly opposed by the American Association of Port Authorities, among others.
   In total, the bill reflects an allocation of $56.5 billion in discretionary spending, $1.1 billion below fiscal year 2017 and $8.6 billion above the Trump administration’s proposal. The funding is targeted to essential investments in transportation infrastructure investments, as well as fundamental community development and housing programs.
   Highlights of the spending bill include:
     • Maritime – $490.6 million for the Maritime Administration, to increase the productivity, efficiency, and safety of the nation’s ports and intermodal water and land transportation. The amount is $31.9 million below fiscal year 2017’s level. The Maritime Security Program would be funded at the full authorized level of $300 million.
     • Air – $16.6 billion in total budgetary resources for the Federal Aviation Administration, which is $153 million above FY 2017 and $435 million above the Trump Administration’s request. The money would fund all air traffic control personnel, including 14,500 air traffic controllers, 7,400 safety inspectors, and operational support personnel. In addition, the bill does not include new passenger facility and general aviation fees.
     • Highways – The bill allows $45 billion from the Highway Trust Fund to be spent on the Federal-aid Highways Program, which is $968 million above the fiscal year 2017 level. This funding mirrors the current authorized levels.
     • Rail – The Federal Railroad Administration would be funded at $2.2 billion, $360 million over FY 2017 and $1.1 billion above the administration’s request. The bill provides a total of $1.4 billion for Amtrak, of which $328 million is for the Northeast Corridor grants, and $1.1 billion is to support the national network. Rail safety and research programs are funded at $258.3 million, equal to the fiscal year 2017 enacted level.

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