House panel backs bill to slash Transportation funding

A House panel approved legislation late Monday evening that would slash funding for the Department of Transportation (DOT) after rejecting a Democratic effort to add their own $200 billion infrastructure package to the bill.

In a 31-20 vote, the House Appropriations Committee backed a spending measure to provide $17.8 billion in discretionary funding for the DOT in fiscal 2018. That figure is $646 million less than current levels — a 3.7 percent decrease — but is $1.5 billion more than what President Trump requested for the agency.

Rep. David Price (D-N.C.), ranking member on the subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, offered an amendment that would provide $200 billion to upgrade the country’s roads, rails, airports, ports and other public works.

The move was designed to highlight the lack of progress on President Trump’s yet-to-be-unveiled infrastructure package, which officials have said will inject $200 billion in federal dollars to the country’s transportation system. On the campaign trail, Trump promised to make the issue a 100-day priority.

“We were assured by the president that infrastructure would be a priority, yet a plan for infrastructure keeps getting pushed back, back, back,” Price said. “Believe me, this country … might even conclude we’re putting our money where our mouth is,” if the panel adopted the amendment.

But Republicans rebuffed Price’s proposal on the basis that it would cause the spending legislation to go over its funding allocation – a common rebuttal to Democratic amendments that were offered on Monday.

“If this were adopted, it would prevent this bill from going to the floor,” said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), chairman of the Transportation subcommittee.

Democrats have criticized Trump for promising massive investments in infrastructure while also proposing cuts for the DOT in his budget request.

The House DOT spending measure doesn’t exactly mirror the White House’s budget…

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