Reed Helps Break Congressional Gridlock by Getting Key Transportation, Housing & Economic Development Approps Bill Moving
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) announced that the 2021 Senate THUD Appropriations bill he co-authored with Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME) includes over $600 million in federal funding for Ocean State transportation, housing, and economic development programs. Notably, Reed successfully secured $60 million in federal assistance for bridge repair and replacement projects in Rhode Island.
“This bipartisan appropriations agreement will greenlight key infrastructure improvements for roads, bridges, and airports as well as critical investments in affordable housing and community and economic development,” said Senator Reed. “At a time when our economy needs a boost, this federal funding will help put people to work, upgrade our infrastructure, and enhance safety. This is a responsible and necessary step to help drive our economy forward.”
“While I’m pleased with what we have been able to negotiate thus far, our work will not be complete until we also have a bill that addresses the significant impacts of COVID-19. Within the purview of the THUD Subcommittee alone, there are overwhelming needs that require federal aid to assist people experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming homeless. We also must revive public transportation to ensure safe, connected mobility options for Rhode Islanders,” Reed continued. “Sadly for months, Senate Republican leaders fell short on delivering COVID-19 relief legislation that would comprehensively address the public health and economic needs of our communities. They failed to introduce even one of the twelve annual appropriations bills that fund the government. Now that the election is over and with only a month before we face a government shutdown, Republican leaders have finally signaled a willingness to move forward. This sets Congress up to negotiate a single “omnibus” appropriations bill that encompasses all twelve spending bills and hopefully a significant COVID-19 relief package. It’s a tall order, but Senate Democrats have already demonstrated a willingness to roll up our sleeves and we hope Senate Republicans will join us in working to serve and protect the American people.”
Overall, the Senate’s fiscal year 2021 THUD Appropriations bill provides $74.8 billion in appropriated budget authority for critical transportation, affordable housing, community development, and infrastructure programs.
As a result of Reed’s committee leadership, Rhode Island will receive an estimated $306.6 million for roads and bridges – including $60 million for bridge repair and replacement – and nearly $45 million for public transportation.
Highlighting the high percentage of deficient bridges in Rhode Island, Senator Reed stated: “The wear and tear on our bridges is real. For too long they’ve been neglected and we simply can’t afford to delay needed repairs. RIDOT is taking needed steps to fix many bridges in poor condition. This bill provides a $60 million boost to support that effort.”
Reed also criticized the Trump Administration for not doing more to invest in America’s infrastructure, stating: “Infrastructure is key to smart growth, equitable mobility, and future economic development. President Trump said he would do a major infrastructure plan but he chose to jam through a $2 trillion tax cut for the wealthiest and most powerful. I hope President-elect Biden will make these types of investments a core pillar of his jobs plan and work with Congress to improve infrastructure on a national scale.”
For U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs, the bill provides $48.7 billion for fiscal year 2021, including key investments in Public Housing infrastructure, and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME programs, which provide the state and local governments with the resources to boost economic development and create affordable housing for our working families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities.
Highlights of the bill include:
Department of Transportation: $87 billion in total budgetary resources, including $25.67 billion in discretionary funds for critical transportation projects.
- Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grants: The bill includes $1 billion for BUILD grants, previously referred to as Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants. Since 2010, Rhode Island has been awarded over $175 million in competitive TIGER/BUILD grants, including a $21.3 million grant awarded this fall to upgrade a key stretch of Route 37/I-295.
- Federal Highway Administration (FHWA): The bill provides $49.47 billion for critical highway infrastructure, of which $2.4 billion is from discretionary appropriations. Of the total discretionary increase, $1.36 billion is dedicated to a bridge program that will provide risk-based grants to states to address bridges in poor condition. Senator Reed noted that under this formula, Rhode Island will receive an extra $60 million for bridge repair and replacement. With this funding and other increases, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) is estimated to receive nearly $306.6 million for highways, roads, and bridges for the fiscal year.
- Transit: The bill includes $13 billion in transit funding, of which Rhode Island will receive an estimated $44.8 million to support capital and state of good repair investments for commuter rail and RIPTA service.
- Airports: The bill provides $17.95 billion for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to enhance air safety and upgrade infrastructure. This level of funding will allow runway improvements at T.F. Green to remain on schedule.
- Amtrak: The bill provides $2 billion for Amtrak to continue train operations along the Northeast Corridor, State Supported and Long Distance routes. At Reed’s request, the bill includes $100 million for the acquisition of new passenger rail cars to replace Amtrak’s outdated fleet.
- Rail Funding: The bill provides $340 million for CRISI (Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements) grants and $200 million for Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair Grant grants. CRISI grants can be used for a broad range of eligible activities that address safety and improve the infrastructure of our railroad network, including the development and deployment of railroad safety technology, such as Positive Train Control, and capital projects, such as station or platform enhancements, rail line relocation or improvements, design and construction of highway-rail grade crossing safety measures as well as planning and environmental grants to support the development of rail infrastructure projects.
- MARAD: The bill provides $1.12 billion for the Maritime Administration to increase the productivity, efficiency, and safety of the nation’s ports and intermodal water and land transportation.
Department of Housing and Urban Development: $48.78 billion
The bill provides resources to preserve the nation’s affordable housing for low-income HUD-assisted households currently served through the Section 8 Tenant-Based Rental Assistance, Public Housing, Project-based Rental Assistance programs, and other assisted rental housing programs. For Rhode Island, this includes:
- $186.5 million for the Section 8 Project-based Rental Assistance program serving over 15,800 units across the state and housing more than 21,500 residents.
- $60.9 million for the operation and capital maintenance of Rhode Island’s 8,800 public housing units.
- Continued rental assistance for more than 1,200 low-income elderly households, building on the $6.9 million provided in fiscal year 2020.
- Continued rental assistance for nearly 500 low-income persons with disabilities, building on the $4.4 million provided in fiscal year 2020.
Overall, the bill provides $4.8 billion to preserve and expand affordable housing opportunities for low-income renters and homeowners and support local economic development projects through the HOME and Community Development Block Grant Programs.
- HOME Investment Partnerships Program: The bill rejects the President’s proposal to eliminate the HOME program – the only federal program solely dedicated to affordable housing production and preservation – and instead provides $1.375 billion.
- Community Development Block Grant (CDBG): Rejecting President Trump’s proposal to eliminate the CDBG program, Reed worked to increase funding to $3.45 billion. This should result in approximately $16.9 million for Rhode Island.
- Homelessness Prevention: To help prevent homelessness nationwide and assist families and individuals experiencing homelessness, the bill provides over $2.99 billion in homeless assistance grants and voucher assistance, including:
- $2.5 billion is to continue to support local supportive housing programs;
- $290 is for Emergency Solutions Grants that provides resources to local non-profits to address emergency shelter and services demands;
- $80 million is for targeted resources for youth experiencing homelessness; and
- $50 million is to support rapid rehousing projects for survivors of domestic violence.
These funds will build on the vital homeless assistance and prevention work taking place in Rhode Island, and will fully renew the 39 existing Continuum of Care projects in the state.
- Ending Veterans Homelessness: Further, the bill rejects the President’s proposal to eliminate the HUD-VASH new resources for this program and includes $40 million to provide 5,100 new incremental rental vouchers for veterans experiencing homelessness. Providence, North Providence, Pawtucket, Tiverton, Bristol, and West Warwick Housing Authorities administer a combined 280 VASH vouchers for veterans experiencing homelessness in Rhode Island. At the direction of Reed, the bill includes language directing HUD to work with the VA to identify ways to improve the referral process for eligible veterans, including using existing authority to designate public housing agencies as eligible entities to provide services to VASH eligible veterans, in order to quickly house and serve veterans experiencing homelessness. The bill also includes Reed’s language directing the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) to continue the coordination between DoD, the VA, the Department of Labor, and HUD in order to prevent exiting service members from falling into homelessness.
- Lead-Based Paint Hazard Remediation: To address lead-based paint and other environmental hazards in the home, the bill includes $360 million for grants awarded by the Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes. No less than $95 million is reserved for those communities with the highest lead-based paint abatement needs, such as the heavily-impacted communities in Rhode Island.
- NeighborWorks America: To continue its investment in NeighborWorks America programs nationwide, the bill includes $158.5 million for this program. Rhode Island-based affiliates of NeighborWorks America have received over $1.1 million over the last two years in grants. In 2019 alone, NeighborWorks’ grant funding leveraged $34 dollars for every dollar invested in the state. These resources helped to provide housing and counseling services to nearly 3,000 families and individuals, assist almost 13 new homeowners with their purchases, and create or maintain nearly 200 jobs.
- Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS): The bill includes $105 million for the FSS program.