On Thursday, April 14, Congress approved and sent to President Barack Obama an appropriations bill to complete funding the federal government for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. The bill captures the “handshake agreement” made late last Friday between President Obama, and Congressional Leaders which averted a last minute shutdown of the federal government. Of significant note, the bill gets rid of all funding for high-speed rail this fiscal year, and cancels $400 million of last year’s unobligated high-speed rail funds, as well as reduces Amtrak capital funding $130 million; cuts transit capital funding $400 million; cancels $280 million in prior transit appropriations.
The bill, HR 1473, finally closes out Fiscal Year 2011 appropriations six-and-a-half months into the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. The House approved the measure 260-167 Thursday afternoon and sent it to the Senate, which promptly approved the bill 81-19.
Most importantly for bicycle advocates the bill rescinds (or calls back) $2.5 billion in highway contract authority. Past history tells us that these types of notices always disproportionately affect important bicycle and pedestrian funding programs such as Transportation Enhancements (TE). Be on the look out for a League of American Bicyclists action item next week urging bicycle advocates, and others interested in this issue, to contact their governors to once again make sure that federal funds set back from the states is done in a fair and proportional manner.
Director of Advocacy, League of American Bicyclists
Finch joined the League in 2006 and has more than 20 years of experience in the transportation industry. He worked as a government relations associate with G.S. Proctor & Associates, served as the chief of staff for a member of Maryland’s House of Delegates, and worked at the U.S. Department of Transportation as the Special Assistant, Office of the Secretary, Office of Intermodalism.