Congress must enact an extension of the transportation appropriations by September 30 or the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and other federal transportation agencies will shut down. In addition, Congress must enact a surface transportation extension act by the same date or FTA will have no authority to make transit grants for fiscal year (FY) 2021.
The House Committee on Appropriations introduced H.R. 8319, the “Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act”, which addresses both the transportation appropriations and surface transportation issues. The bill prevents a federal government shutdown and continues current appropriations through December 11, 2020. In addition, the bill includes a one-year extension of the surface transportation authorization act.
In the past 30 years, Congress has never enacted a one-year extension of surface transportation authorization programs after the lapse of a multi-year authorization act. This bill, if enacted, will provide public transit agencies with much-needed certainty regarding public transit funding in FY 2021.
Division B of the bill, the Surface Transportation Program Extension authorizes at least $12.6 billion for public transit investment and includes several critical public transit priorities:
- Authorizes public transit funding for FY 2021 at amounts equal to the FY 2020 authorization as provided by the FAST Act (P.L. 114-94) and distributes the funds in the same manner as the prior year;
- Prevents a $6 billion (or 60 percent) across-the-board cut of FY 2021 transit formula funds to each public transit agency by prohibiting application of the Rostenkowski Test;
- Deposits $3.2 billion in the Mass Transit Account (MTA) of the Highway Trust Fund to ensure that the MTA will not run out of funds and FTA will be able to process grants in the upcoming fiscal year; and
- Extends the authorization for transit-oriented development (TOD) projects for Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) loans and loan guarantees (which expires September 30, 2020) to September 30, 2021.
The House of Representatives is expected to consider H.R. 8319 this week. To prevent a government shutdown, Congress must complete action on the bill and the President must sign it by September 30.