Price Statement on 302(b) Appropriations Allocations
Washington, DC – Congressman David E. Price (NC-04), Ranking Member of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, gave the following remarks in support of the Democratic proposal to raise 302(b) allocation caps for FY2016 Appropriations above the sequester levels proposed by the Republican majority.
Mr. Chairman, I also have serious concerns with the 302b allocation proposal before us today and strongly support the alternative proposed by the Ranking Member Mrs. Lowey.
Throughout our hearing process, I have made the case that the solution to our budgetary problems is clear. The constraints that produce these allocations are self-inflicted damage, the result of the majority’s policy of austerity. Deficit reduction has been almost exclusively focused on appropriations, leaving the main drivers of the deficit--tax expenditures and mandatory spending--untouched. In the meantime, we starve our country of critical investments.
At first glance, the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Subcommittee appears to be a winner with a $1.5 billion increase over last year’s enacted level.
Yet, when you consider the result of declining receipts from the Federal Housing Administration loan program and the renewal costs of HUD’s Section 8 programs – the net effect is that the allocation is actually $1.5 billion below last year’s level.
The Subcommittee Chairman and I had a good conversation last week about our mutual interest in moving the THUD bill forward. I know that the Chairman is committed to supporting the important safety mission of the Department of Transportation and to ensure we protect our vulnerable citizens that rely on public housing.
At these funding levels, our ability to address the urgent and long-term housing and infrastructure needs facing our nation will be greatly compromised. The programs most at risk are the capital programs, the very programs that create jobs for the economy. Let me provide you with a few examples.
First, the President requested $3.2 billion for the Federal Transit Administration’s capital investment grant program to construct new or expand existing transit systems, but the 302b allocation will make it impossible to provide this amount, in turn making it harder to advance all of the projects currently in the transit pipeline.
Second, despite persistent and growing need, this allocation will make it difficult to construct and preserve units of affordable housing.
Since 2012, funding for the CDBG program has been reduced by $300 million and the HOME program has been cut by $600 million. This allocation is likely to result in the lowest level of funding in the history of these programs. This will mean another year of decay and deferred maintenance for our communities.
The alternative 302b allocation proposed by the Ranking Member, Mrs. Lowey, would fully fund the President’s budget request for DOT and HUD while staying true to how these programs are currently funded.
For example, it would more than double the funding for the TIGER program to $1.25 billion. We know from experience that the demand for TIGER funding far exceeds the funding available. In FY 14, there $9.5 billion in applications for the $600 million that was provided.
The Ranking Member’s alternative also provides robust funding for passenger rail, not only ensuring means to expand and improve service to communities, but also helping commuter railroads install important safety technologies like positive train control.
I am hopeful that as we move forward, we can build a path out of this morass. The way to begin is to reject and replace these allocations.