UPDATED – 2023 Appropriations Blog Series: Week of July 25

The House of Representatives is aiming to pass all 12 appropriations bills before it begins its month long recess on August 1.  The first of two “minibuses” was passed on Wednesday, July 20, and the second is expected to be passed later this week. 

The first minibus includes funding for the Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, Energy, and Interior Departments, and the Environmental Protection Agency. 

The second minibus, scheduled to be approved this week, includes funding for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Justice, Commerce, and Homeland Security, as well as the Department of Defense. 

If adopted into law, the minibuses would provide $91 billion for the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, $86 billion for the Department of Homeland Security, $38 billion for the Department of Justice, $12 billion for the Department of Commerce, and $11 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as $762 billion in discretionary defense budget authority, and $224 billion to fund the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services and Education.

It is important to note that funding levels for each department are likely to change over the next several months once the Senate develops its own appropriation bills and both chambers reach a bipartisan and bicameral deal.  Furthermore, despite the speed with which the House has moved its appropriations bills, Senate negotiators have yet to publicly roll out any of their dozen annual spending bills where leaders are struggling to strike a larger bipartisan deal on how to fund the government.

Over the next weeks and months, NARC will update this blog as part of an effort to keep you informed about funding levels for programs of importance to cities, counties, and regions.

Funding for the Departments of Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development

The Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriation bill would provide $91 billion in discretionary funds, an increase of $10 billion[1] or 12 percent, above fiscal year 2022. This includes an increase of $9 billion for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and $837 million for the Department of Transportation (DOT).  Moreover, the bill would provide $169  billion in total budgetary resources, an increase of $12  billion above FY 2022.

While the Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) program was level funded many of the programs that are receiving increases are important to cities, counties, and regions.  They deal with highways and transit, housing, rail, and aviation.  Funds have been included to upgrade airports; upgrade and maintain public, supported, and affordable housing; fund mass transit programs including Amtrak; and fund national infrastructure investments.  Underlying the House THUD appropriation is a focus on equity throughout federally-supported housing and transportation programs.

Of course, cities, counties, and regions of various sizes and responsibilities will benefit differently from these increases, should they become law, but the underlying message from the Appropriations Committee is that there remains substantial support within Congress for the full range of transportation and housing programs.

As THUD Subcommittee chair David E. Price (D-NC-04) said, “This year’s THUD bill builds on the successes of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).” Appropriations Committee chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03) added that the investments being made through the THUD appropriations bill “are essential pathways to the American Dream and will help grow opportunity for the middle class through homeownership and … affordable housing.”

According to the Appropriations Committee, the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development funding bill would:

  • Create and sustain tens of thousands of new high-paying jobs.
  • Expand programs designed to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure with significant investments in airports, highways, transit, passenger rail, and port systems.
  • Expand rental assistance for families experiencing or at risk of homelessness and increase the number of senior housing units.
  • Promote safe transportation and housing by developing a skilled and growing workforce that would conduct inspections, mitigate hazards, seek solutions for improving the safety of housing.
  • Fund efforts to reduce emissions, increase resiliency, and address historical inequities in transportation and housing programs; and
  • Fund House Members’ earmarks.

Funding for DOT would specifically include:

  • $775 million for RAISE, TIGER, and BUILD programs including $30 million that would be targeted to areas of persistent poverty.
  • $18.7 billion for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), including funding for aviation safety and airport improvements.
  • $61.3 billion for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
  • $2 billion for motor carrier and highway traffic safety programs.
  • $3.8 billion for the Federal Railroad Administration, including $2.3 billion for Amtrak; and
  • $17.5 billion for the Federal Transit Administration and $1 billion for the Maritime Administration.

Funding for HUD would include:

  • $11.8 billion for community planning and development including $3.3 billion for CDBG.
  • $31 billion for tenant-based rental assistance including $1.1 billion to expand housing assistance to 140,000 more households and $55 million for housing supports for homeless veterans.
  • $8.7 billion for public housing.
  • $600 million for housing for persons with HIV/AIDS.
  • $450 million for Choice Neighborhoods initiatives; and
  • $415 million for lead hazard control especially in Section 8 housing voucher units.

[1] Funding levels have been rounded to the nearest whole number.

Defense Department Funding

The Defense Department appropriations bill would authorize $840.2 billion in national defense spending. The sprawling Pentagon funding package would authorize funds for the Defense Department and funds for national security programs within the Department of Energy. 

While not obviously important to regions, there are many like Alamo Area Council of Governments and the North Central Texas Council of Governments, that have very strong relationships with their local military bases and those relationships will benefit from much of the House-proposed Defense Department funding. 

If adopted by the House the bill would provide:

  • $2.1 billion for family housing projects both on and off base.
  • $510 million for housing for single service members.
  • $274 million for child development centers.
  • $1 billion for construction or renovation of Guard and Reserve facilities, something that has the potential of impacting a significant number of states and regions.
  • $1.3 billion for Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Plan projects
  • $653 million for energy resilience programs

$575 million for ongoing Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) activities, including per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination cleanup.[1]

[1] Source:  Association of Defense Communities, Washington, DC 

Commerce Department Funding

The Department of Commerce appropriations bill provides funding for, among other agencies, the Census Bureau, the Economic Development Administration (EDA), Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 

According to the House Appropriations Committee, the bill would help create “good paying American jobs with investments in economic development in distressed communities and fund.”  It would also address the “climate crisis with strong funding for climate resilience and research at various agencies within the Commerce Department.”

Subcommittee chair Matt Cartwright (D-PA) said that the Commerce appropriations bill would “invest in American manufacturing, economic development and infrastructure improvements to strengthen our economy and improve the lives of our nation’s working people,” 

Of the greatest importance to regions is funding for EDA.  If the House prevails, EDA’s fiscal year 2023 funding level would be $510 million, an increase of $137 million over last year; the Census Bureau would receive $1.5 billion, an increase of $152 billion over last year; MBDA would receive $70 million, $15 million more than last year; and NOAA would receive nearly $7 billion, nearly $1 billion more than last year. 

Next Week: More analysis and an overview of funding for the Environmental Protection Agency and the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security.