- The $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill signed by President Donald Trump last week delivers $21.2 billion more for infrastructure, but left funding for other initiatives like the $13 billion New York-New Jersey Hudson River Tunnel up in the air, according to The Wall Street Journal.
- The bill spreads the $21.2 billion, according to a document prepared by the House Committee on Appropriations, between highways ($3.5 billion); airports ($1 billion); TIGER grants ($1 billion); rail projects (+$3.1 billion), including $1.9 billion for Amtrak and $500 million for two grant programs; water infrastructure ($1.4 billion); rural broadband ($625 million); commerce, justice and science facilities and development ($1.1 billion); energy projects ($398 million); General Services Administration construction projects and modernization ($1.2 billion); cyber infrastructure, Federal Emergency Management Agency infrastructure projects and Department of Homeland Security facilities (+$500 million); EPA water and Superfund projects and overall government facility maintenance (+1.9 billion); Centers for Disease Control and Social Security Administration modernization (+$700 million); military facilities ($2.8 billion), $2 billion of which would go toward VA hospitals; and state and local infrastructure (+$1.9 billion).
- The bill also provides $1.6 billion for U.S.–Mexico border wall maintenance, repairs and construction, as well as a $50 million bump for federal apprenticeships and $75 million for career and technical education programs, according to The Washington Post. An increase in the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) is not included in the bill, according to USA Today, which is currently capped at $4.50 per flight and helps to fund airport improvement projects.
Airport industry groups like the Airports Council International-North America, as well as the airports themselves, have advocated for the elimination of the PFC cap, citing a need to pay for airport infrastructure projects. However, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have been hesitant to allow the PFC to rise beyond $4.50
Lawmakers have also turned away from calls to raise the federal gas tax in order to give the HTF a consistent, higher revenue stream. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the president and some Republicans have suggested a 25-cent-per-gallon increase for both gas and diesel, but there has been resistance to imposing a new tax on Americans.
Also left out is a long-term revenue solution for the federal Highway Trust Fund and a special line item for the Hudson River tunnel, although Democrats said they could scrape up more than $540 million from other sources if need be. The tunnel, which is considered critical to keeping rail travel along the Northeast Corridor moving smoothly, had an Obama-era commitment to the federal government footing half of the bill.
The Department of Transportation, now headed up by Secretary Elaine Chao, has denied there was ever such an arrangement. The tunnel project's governing body, the Gateway Program Development Corporation, has said in the past it would be willing to seek private investment for the project and could now seriously be looking into completing the project as a public-private partnership.