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House and Senate appropriators preserved $500 million in fiscal 2017 funding for the Transportation Department’s TIGER grant program as part of the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending measure that cleared the Senate on May 4.
The Trump administration had sought in omnibus negotiations to eliminate funding for the Obama-era program. Trump’s skinny FY 2018 budget proposal would also wipe out funding for the competitive grants, which can be used for surface transportation projects ranging from multimodal transit facilities to ports. Trump, however, has vowed an overall ramp-up of infrastructure spending.
The amount of $500 million is largely in line with prior-year funding, though demand for the grants consistently outpaces the amount Congress appropriates.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who chairs the Senate Appropriations transportation subcommittee, said TIGER grants were a “top priority” for her going into talks on the FY17 omnibus.
“I fought for their inclusion. It has been an enormously popular and effective program across the United States,” Collins told Bloomberg BNA.
Maine received $10.5 million in the 2016 TIGER grants awarded in January.
Rep. David Price (D-N.C.), the ranking member on the House Appropriations transportation subcommittee, said he was pleased the grants had bipartisan support. He said he would like to see the program’s funding at least doubled in the future.
Price’s district benefited from two TIGER grants in 2012 and 2013 totaling $31 million to support the new multimodal Union Station in Raleigh.
Price questioned the president’s commitment to infrastructure funding.
If Trump wants a bipartisan approach to infrastructure, “this is the sort of thing he should be championing. You have to ask how sincere he is or how knowledgeable he is if he takes this premier program that has been such a success and zaps it,” Price said.
The Senate’s passage of the omnibus moved the measure to Trump’s desk for signature; the House passed it May 3.
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