Spring is in the air here in Washington, and so has begun the appropriations process. In anticipation of fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations, ASCE sent a series of letters to Key Appropriators while also making it a key legislative ask during this year’s Federal Legislative Fly-In. As ASCE laid the groundwork to secure full funding for key infrastructure programs, the White House released its budget request for FY20—a blueprint of the Administration’s priorities. Congress then began reviewing these recommendations.
Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee held hearings on President Trump’s FY2020 budget request for the Department of Transportation and the Department of Energy. On the other side of the Hill, House appropriators met to consider the President’s proposals for the Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation.
This week, the House Appropriations Energy and Commerce and the Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change held a hearing to review President Trump’s FY20 budget request for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler testified on the budget request’s $2.8 billion cut to the agency compared to the FY19 enacted level, or a 31% decrease. The proposal also requests the following cuts:
- A dramatic $38 million cut, or 43% decrease, to the Water Infrastructure Finance & Innovation Act (WIFIA) compared to the FY19 enacted level;
- $1.12 billion, or 34% cut in funding, to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) program; and
- $863 million, 26% cut in funding, to the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) program compared to the FY19 enacted level.
ASCE requested that the House Appropriations Committee on Interior & Environment provide no less than $68 million for the WIFIA program, as well as the tripling of State Revolving Fund programs for a total of $4.5 billion for the CWSRF and $3 billion for the DWSRF in FY20.
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and other agencies also held a hearing to review President Trump’s FY20 budget request for the Department of Transportation (DOT). Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao testified on DOT’s request for $84 billion for key DOT programs—a $3.5 billion decrease from FY19. Under DOT’s budget proposal $1 billion was requested BUILD grants, a $100 billion increase from FY19 enacted levels. Despite this positive request, the following programs received cuts:
- The Capital Investment Grants (CIG) program received $1.5 billion, a $1 billion decrease from FY19 enacted levels;
- The Airport Improvement Program (AIP) did not receive any supplemental funding compared to $500 million in FY19; and
- Key FAST Act programs appropriated through General Fund dollars received $3.6 billion, a $1.5 billion decrease from their authorized levels and $2 billion less than FY19 enacted levels.
ASCE urges Congress to fund these agencies and successful programs, especially those included in our FY20 appropriations request letters. Providing more funding to existing programs, rather than creating new programs, will reduce overhead costs and startup time while still allowing for significant and noticeable improvements across all sectors of U.S. infrastructure.
Our infrastructure is the backbone of our nation’s economy, and we ask Congress to engage in bold leadership so that we can restore America’s world-class infrastructure.