Federal Funding Information from Robin Summerfield

House approves bills extending funds for FAA, highways
By Pete Kasperowicz – 09/13/11 01:21 PM ET
The House on Tuesday afternoon easily approved legislation that extends taxes that fund the Federal Aviation Administration for more than three months, and extends taxes that fund federal highway spending for six months.
Members approved the bipartisan bill by voice vote, under a suspension of House rules. The bill was announced Monday as the result of a bipartisan agreement between House and Senate leaders.
Some extension of FAA and highway taxes is needed this month. FAA funding expires Friday, but is extended through January under the bill; funding for federal highway programs expires at the end of September, but would be extended through March.
The bill, H.R. 2887, marks the 22nd temporary extension of FAA funding, and the eighth extension of federal highway programs. But House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) vowed on Tuesday that this would be the last temporary extension for the FAA.
“This is the 22nd extension, and I can guarantee it will be the last extension, because we must and we will pass a four-year authorization,” he said on the floor. Mica also said he wants a six-year highway bill.
A longer-term FAA funding bill has been held up by House Republican demands for $4 billion in FAA cuts and language that would make it harder to form air unions. The highway bill has also been held up by a dispute over funding. Republicans have pressed for a bill spending about $40 billion annually for six years, while Democrats have sought a two-year bill spending more than $50 billion per year.
Several Democrats on Tuesday welcomed the clean extension of FAA and highway funding, and said the legislation stands in contrast to a bill House Republicans pressed for in July. That bill would have cut off subsidies to three airports — including one in the home state of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). The Senate rejected that bill, leading to a two-week shutdown of FAA construction projects.
Democrats also supported the bill on Tuesday because it would not cut funding from fiscal year 2011 levels, unlike other Republican proposals.
“The funding levels in the pending measure are far more preferable than what we are seeing being proposed by Republicans on the Appropriations Committee,” said Committee Ranking Member Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.).
With House passage, the bill moves to the Senate, which is also expected to approve the language.

Sept. 12, 2011 – 7:10 p.m.
White House Plans Include Contested Rail Programs, Infrastructure Bank
By Kathryn A. Wolfe, CQ Staff
President Obama’s jobs bill contains billions of dollars for Amtrak and high-speed rail, both of which are likely to draw fierce Republican opposition.
Though the lion’s share of the $50 billion infusion of infrastructure cash Obama is seeking would go toward the highway and rail projects that are considered the breadbasket of transportation spending, the plan also calls for $4 billion for intercity and high-speed passenger rail, and $2 billion for Amtrak capital improvements. Both have become lightning rods for partisan attack.
Additionally, Obama has apparently backed away from his Labor Day call of last year to pay for an immediate $50 billion in infrastructure spending simply by front-loading the first year of expenditures under the next surface transportation bill.
Instead, the jobs plan mostly would generate revenue by levying more taxes on the highest-income Americans and ending some subsidies for the oil and gas industry.
Some transportation stakeholders may be pleased to hear that Obama has abandoned what many viewed was an unrealistic way to fund the sort of infrastructure investments he wants, but the approach will no doubt draw partisan rhetoric about the measure being “stimulus, take two.”

Banks Details

The jobs bill also includes a proposal for an infrastructure bank that seems substantially modeled after a proposal championed by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas (S 652).
Like the Kerry-Hutchison plan, Obama’s proposal would provide loans and loan guarantees for infrastructure projects including transportation, energy and water infrastructure of national or regional significance. Both propose a seven-member governing body appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate and envision an initial capitalization of $10 billion in federal money.
There are some differences, however.
For instance, Kerry-Hutchison contains a section stipulating that the bank should take actions to make it a “self-sustaining entity, with administrative costs and federal credit subsidy costs fully funded by fees and risk premiums.”
In contrast, the Obama jobs bill says the bank should take actions to “minimize the risk and cost to the taxpayer” of the bank’s activities, and notes that its fees and premiums “will be set at levels that minimize administrative and federal credit subsidy costs . . . while supporting achievement of the program’s objectives.”
Beyond the money for highways, high-speed rail and Amtrak, the jobs bill calls for $6 billion for fixed guideway systems, $5 billion for competitive grants across all modes, $3 billion for transit capital projects, $2 billion for airport capital projects, and $1 billion for modernizing the air traffic control system.



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