WASHINGTON—In the strongest bi-partisan moves since President Trump’s election, Congress passed a spending agreement called an omnibus that is in stark contrast to President Trump’s 2018 budget – in which he proposed that transportation funds be slashed by the billions.
In the just-passed bill, Congress secured and even increased transportation funding, preventing the loss of tens of thousands of jobs, the elimination of long-distance train service, and a freeze on railway, road and bridge infrastructure upgrades.
One important spending increase was an additional $570,000 for the National Mediation Board; something SMART TD has been seeking to reduce the backlog of arbitration cases.
For our California members, the omnibus included $100 million in funding for the Caltrain electrification project. This means that construction—previously placed on hold by the Department of Transportation will move forward, with federal funds for Caltrain guaranteed until the end of FY2017.
For our Great Lakes pilot and flight attendant members the Essential Air Service (EAS) program for rural communities was fully funded, something President Trump’s budget also proposed to eliminate.
For our bus membership, federal funding for the Federal Transit Administration—slated by the administration for a major decrease—was increased by $236 million and $2.4 billion was included for transit Capital Investment Grants.
In addition, the omnibus spending provides a permanent solution to guarantee health care for nearly 22,000 retired union mine workers who have been impacted by the growing decline of coal production.
“This proposal, which had widespread support on both sides of the political aisle sends a clear message to the White House that killing transportation initiatives and slashing transportation funding is not supported by Congress – and is not in the best interest of transportation workers and our nation,” stated John Risch, SMART TD national legislative director.
Although this vote is a victory, we must remain vigilant and continue to contact our representatives to make it clear that investments in transportation are vital to our nation.