WASHINGTON, DC – With federal agencies currently operating under a short-term continuing resolution that expires on November 21st, U.S. Senator Jack Reed is urging Republican lawmakers to end the legislative gridlock in order to fund the government for the full fiscal year.

Reed, the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD), helped write the bipartisan fiscal year 2020 THUD Appropriations bill and steer it through unanimous approval by the full Appropriations Committee last month.  The $74.3 billion discretionary spending package will help advance road and bridge projects, boost aviation safety, expand affordable housing opportunities, and preserve community economic development investments.  The measure rejects President Trump’s proposal to steeply cut transportation and housing programs, and instead provides increases in many key initiatives.

Last month, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refused to advance this and other bipartisan appropriations bills on the floor, and instead sought to force through measures to help fund President Trump’s ineffective U.S.-Mexico border wall.  As a result, the Appropriations process stalled, and Congress did not finish its appropriations work before the new fiscal year, which began on October 1st.

Now, three weeks into the fiscal year, the Senate is finally poised to vote to begin debate on an appropriations package that combines the non-controversial fiscal 2020 Agriculture; Commerce-Justice-Science; Interior-Environment; and THUD bills.

“With a deadline only a few weeks away, we need to get the appropriations process moving.  We can’t afford another year of GOP catering to the President’s mercurial demands over the border wall.  The President’s 35-day shut down that started last December showed that “the Trump first, America last” strategy is destined to fail.  And as Leader McConnell often says, ‘there is no education in the second kick of a mule.’ Certainly, no lesson can be learned from another needless Trump shutdown. Republicans know the responsible path forward – abandon the divisive wall and negotiate 12 bipartisan funding bills, starting with these four measures, which will invest in the American people and in improving our economy and infrastructure,” said Senator Reed.

Reed noted that the THUD portion of the bill directs over $86.6 billion in total budgetary resources to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) in order to improve the safety, reliability, and efficiency of our transportation networks.  These investments will allow for the development of transformative projects across all modes of transportation and will make significant strides to address the deferred maintenance backlog in our airport, highway, rail, and transit systems.  The bill also includes $1 billion for infrastructure grants that Senator Reed advocated for through the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant program, as well as enhanced funding for Amtrak.

“I am pleased we were able to secure major investments to help states repair and replace aging infrastructure, including bridges.  Our transportation network is the backbone of our economy.  The federal government needs to help states upgrade existing bridge infrastructure to prevent more costly repairs and emergencies down the road,” noted Senator Reed.

The bill also provides $48.6 billion in discretionary resources for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  It makes key investments to preserve affordable housing for nearly 5 million low-income households; prevent and end homelessness for the more than 552,000 people experiencing homelessness; expand affordable housing and community development opportunities in more than 1,200 communities; and improve environmental conditions for more than 19,000 low-income households.  Furthermore, the bill restores funding for critical housing production and economic development programs, which were proposed for elimination in the President’s budget request.  This includes sustained investments in the HOME program and the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, which give local governments needed resources to advance their communities, support businesses, create jobs, and ensure the availability of decent, affordable housing.

“The Senate THUD bill is a sound bipartisan product and a rebuke of the President’s efforts to slash affordable housing and community development.  It provides needed investments to expand affordable housing opportunities and offers a strong, bipartisan blueprint we can build on,” continued Reed.  “I am committed to maintaining strong support for housing infrastructure programs, such as CDBG and HOME, which are critically important to families and communities.  I look forward to continuing to work with Chairman Collins and our colleagues to get this bipartisan bill across the finish line and provide Rhode Island with a significant bump in housing, transportation, and community development money.”