The winners and losers of the Congressional budget deal
- The latest $1 trillion Congressional spending bill, which keeps the federal government running until the end of September, does not include money for Mexico border wall construction, according to BBC, but increases transportation funding and retains programs that President Donald Trump had proposed eliminating, The Hill reported.
- The omnibus spending bill, passed on Sunday, saves Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants and increases funding for the Federal Transit Administration's Capital Investment program, despite the Trump administration's move to eliminate both initiatives in his preliminary 2018 budget proposal.
- One loser — for now — in the budget process is the General Services Administration, which saw full funding of $1.4 billion for its new FBI headquarters disappear in favor of partial support in the amount of $523 million. It's unclear whether that will be enough for the project to move forward, according to the Washington Business Journal.
Trump introduced his budget in the middle of March, which spurred questions regarding his administration's level of commitment to infrastructure. He proposed a 13% budget cut to the Department of Transportation, a $1 billion reduction for the Army Corps of Engineers, as well as elimination of the TIGER grant and FTA capital investment programs. At the time, the administration said the cuts were necessary to move forward with the $1 trillion infrastructure program that Trump touted during the campaign, but, since that budget proposal, there has been no movement to further that agenda.
Brian Turmail, senior executive director of public affairs for the Associated General Contractors of America, told Construction Dive in March that the association was withholding judgment until details about the entirety of Trump's infrastructure plan were revealed but noted that elimination of certain vital programs didn't seem to line up with the promise to increase investment.
After the first failed pass to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, there was talk that the administration would push for an infrastructure bill as part of tax reform, but the bill the administration proposed last week leaves infrastructure out. Infrastructure advocates hoped that Trump would earmark some repatriated corporate taxes for repairs and upgrades to road, bridge and other public assets.
The FBI headquarters relocation has been up in the air since the GSA announced in March that it had postponed site selection for the new $2 billion project until Congress could firm up funding decisions. The GSA had narrowed down possible sites to three locations in Maryland and Virginia, and it already put out a call for construction managers interested in overseeing the new FBI facility.
The fact that funding for the Mexico border wall project was left out of this spending bill doesn't come as a surprise, as the project has drawn pushback from both sides of the aisle. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officials said last month that wall construction could begin approximately two years after full funding is secured, but a Department of Homeland Security report released earlier this year found that costs for the project could reach as high as $22 billion. Bidders had until April 4 to submit their conceptual designs for the wall.
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