(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the Chairman of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee announced she has restored the Bush Administration's proposed cut to the Highway Trust Fund in the $64.66 billion FY 2003 transportation spending bill.
The bill also funds intercity passenger rail service at $1.2 billion, the full amount requested by Amtrak President David Gunn and his Board of Directors, despite the Administration's request of only $521 million.
In its budget proposal to Congress, the Bush Administration had proposed a devastating $8.6 billion cut to the federal-aid highway program that provides formula funding to the states to repair and rebuild highways. Instead, Sen. Murray worked to provide the full $31.8 billion in her bill.
PROGRAM FUNDING LEVELS:
Transportation Security Administration
Murray's bill proposes $4.95 billion for the TSA, which is $150 million above the Administration's request, to help the Bush Administration meet its deadlines of hiring security screeners and installing explosive detection equipment at the nation's airports.
Murray's bill recommends a funding level of $6.072 billion for the Coast Guard. This includes $300 million that has been provided for the Coast Guard in the FY 2003 Department of Defense Appropriations bill. The funding level recommends an historic 16 percent funding increase for the Coast Guard over last year's $5.24 billion
Within the bill, there are directives requesting the Commandant of the Coast Guard to "rebalance" his mission emphasis after the events of September 11th to accommodate the highest priority of Homeland Defense activities while simultaneously using additional funds to restore Coast Guard efforts in the areas of drug interdiction, search and rescue, and marine environmental protection to the levels they were prior to September 11th. The bill requires quarterly reports from the Coast Guard on mission hour usage so Congress can monitor progress on "re-balancing."
Federal Aviation Administration
Murray's bill provides $13.586 billion for the FAA, roughly $4 million above the President's request and $370 million above the 2002 level. The $4 million increase is primarily to train FAA safety inspectors in response to an FAA report about gaps in the training and capabilities of safety inspection personnel.
The proposed bill recommends $440 million for the highway safety activities of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That amount is roughly $15 million above the 2002 enacted level in the President's request. The increased funds would be used to restore the reductions in the area of impaired driving prevention and improved seat belt use. Specifically, the bill includes $3.5 million for the seat belt program to continue the outreach efforts toward minority populations, teens and rural populations.
Federal Transit Administration
Murray's bill recommends $7.326 billion for the Federal Transit Administration. That amount is $455 million above the Fiscal Year 2002 enacted level and a $100 million over the President's request. Funding for the FTA largely follows the guideline of TEA-21 and includes additional funding for both bus grants and grants for new rail transit systems.
Essential Air Service
Murray's bill provides $128 million for EAS. It recommends $65 million in direct appropriations, in combination with $50 million in funds from user fees and the FAA, and an estimated $13 million in carryover funds, which should be sufficient to continue air service in all communities. The proposed bill does not include restrictions that would eliminate a number of communities and empower the Transportation Secretary to disregard the applications for communities that are eligible for service.
Murray's bill provides $63.2 million for the Office of Pipeline Safety, an increase of $5 million over FY 2002.
Mexican Truck Safety
Murray's bill fully funds the President's request of $105 million for border inspections to ensure the safety of Mexican trucks.
Tommorrow, the bill will be marked-up by the full Appropriations Committee.