The American Highway Users Alliance is pleased to announce that Congress has hammered out a final omnibus appropriations bill that significantly increases highway funding with a boost from the General Fund of the Treasury.
The 2015 FAST Act established a baseline of increased spending on highways from 2016-2020. These increases were intended to create five years of stability for highway planning and programming. Last night, appropriators approved the FAST Act authorized budget (obligation limit) out of the Highway Trust Fund, which came to $44.2 billion (up from $43.3 billion in 2017).
Additional budget authority from the general fund also became available as a result of a bipartisan budget deal developed earlier in the year with the President. Appropriators chose to allocate an extra $2.5 billion for highways and another $1.5 billion for “TIGER” grants. Nearly all of the $2.5 billion allocation will be apportioned to the States, by formula. The TIGER grants will be awarded by the Trump Administration through a competitive process. We anticipate that a significant portion of these grants will go to highways, although appropriators require that grants be distributed in a way that includes other modes.
Increased highway funding is a major lobbying priority for the American Highway Users Alliance and we are pleased that Congress chose to use some of its additional budget to increase needed investments in better, safer roads.
Because the additional funds are coming from the General Fund, the boost in spending does not exacerbate the current shortfall facing the Highway Trust Fund. Our top priority remains getting Congress to fix the Highway Trust Fund permanently. The trust fund is currently expected to run a shortfall in 2020 or 2021. This must be addressed in separate legislation.
We thank all Highway Users members and allies who worked hard to push Congress to prioritize highway funding throughout the appropriations process.