Appropriations FY 2019 Features Key Wins for Regions

After months of negotiations and a historic 35-day partial government shutdown, the federal government has finally wrapped up work on the fiscal year (FY) 2019 appropriations process.

President Trump recently signed into law a $333 billion, seven-bill appropriations package that funded the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, State, and Transportation. The package follows five appropriations passed in September 2018 that totaled $991 billion, providing funding for the legislative branch and the Departments of Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Labor, and Veterans Affairs.

Our initial analysis of the FY 2019 appropriations bills signals positive news for regions! The bills include level funding or additional appropriations for many of the priorities we have advocated for over the past year.

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Transportation

BUILD Grants: The BUILD program was funded at $900 million, a decrease of $600 million from FY 2018 but still well above previous years funding (which ranged from $500 to $600 million). One major change is that half of that amount must go to projects in rural areas. Up to $15 million can be awarded in planning grants (though no such awards were made last year). Up to twenty percent of the funds can be used to pay for subsidy and administrative costs of Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) or Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) credit assistance.

STBGP: Of $3.5 billion in supplemental highway funding from the general fund, about $2.7 billion will be apportioned as Surface Transportation Block Grant Program (STBGP) funding (up from just under $2.0 billion last year).

CIG Program: The Capital Investment Grants (CIG) Program received $2.6 billion, a decrease of $92.3 million. This includes $1.4 billion for “New Starts,” $530 million for “Core Capacity,” and $527 million for “Small Starts.”

Transit: Transit formula grants through the Highway Trust Fund increase by $206 million compared to last year, but supplemental funding for the Transit Infrastructure Grants Program was reduced by $134 million (to $700 million).

Rail: The Federal Railroad Administration received $2.9 billion. Amtrak received level funding at $1.9 billion, with $650 million allocated for capital projects along the Northeast Corridor. The bill also includes funding for State of Good Repair grants ($400 million) and consolidated rail infrastructure and safety improvement grants ($255 million).

FAA: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was funded at $17.5 billion – $549 million below the FY 2018 enacted level and $1.3 billion above the president’s request. Airport Improvement Program grants received an additional $500 million this year to make critical airport infrastructure investments and Essential Air Service (EAS) received an increase of more than $40 million.

Drones: The package provided $56 million for drone integration and $24 million for drone research. It also directed the FAA to expand the Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Pilot Program without incurring additional costs.

Aging Programs

ACL: The Administration for Community Living (ACL) was funded at $2.2 billion, a $25 million increase from fiscal year 2018.

Senior Workforce: The Senior Community Service Employment Program remains level at $400 million, rejecting the Trump administration’s proposal to eliminate the program.

OAA, Title III: The Older Americans Act (OAA) Title III programs were either level funded or saw small increases:

  • Level funding for OAA Title III B Home and Community-Based Supportive Services
  • $10 million increase for Title III C Nutrition Services
  • Level funding for Title III D Preventative Health
  • $600,000 increase for Title III E Family Caregivers Support

Census Bureau

Boost to Census Funding: The Census Bureau is funded at $3.8 billion, an increase of more than $1 billion from fiscal year 2018. With about $1 billion in carry-over funding from the previous fiscal year, it’s a big step to ramp up activities related to the 2020 census.

Community and Economic Development

CDBG and HOME: The Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) received level funding at $3.3 billion. The HOME Investment Partnerships Program was funded at $1.250 billion, a decrease of $112 million. The Trump administration proposed to eliminate funding for both programs in fiscal years 2018 and 2019.

SSBG & CSBG: The Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) received level funding at $1.7 billion. The Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) received a $10 million increase. The Trump Administration recommended that both programs be zeroed out in their FY 2019 budget request.

State Workforce Formula Grants: Title I – State Formula Grants of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) received level funding at $2.8 billion. The breakdown of each grant category is:

  • $845 million for WIOA Adult activities
  • $903 million for WIOA Youth activities
  • $1.04 million for WIOA Dislocated Worker activities

EDA: The Economic Development Administration (EDA) received a $2.5 million increase. This allocation ignores the Trump administration’s recommendation to eliminate funding for the agency.

Homeless Assistance Grants: The Homeless Assistance Grants were funded at $2.64 billion, a $12.3 million increase from last year. $80 million was also allocated by the appropriations package to programs addressing youth homelessness.

Housing Choice Vouchers: Housing Choice Vouchers received level funding at $22.6 billion.

Energy & Environment

Brownfields Program: The Brownfields Project Grant Program received a $7 million increase in FY 2019 for a total of $87 million.

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Program: The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Program is funded at $2.38 billion, an increase of $57 million from the last fiscal year and $1.68 billion above the president’s request.

LIHEAP: The package included a $50 million increase for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for a total of $3.69 billion. The Trump administration has recommended zeroing out funding for this program in fiscal years 2018 and 2019.

FEMA/Disaster Response and Recovery

FEMA: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) received $16.6 billion in net discretionary funding, an increase of $4.2 billion over last year. Also included in the package:

  • $12 billion for the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund to help states and communities respond to and recover from major domestic disasters and emergencies. This is an increase of over $4.6 billion from last year.
  • $3.1 billion for FEMA emergency grants, training, and other federal assistance (a $199.7 million decrease).
  • $250 million from the Disaster Relief Fund for the “National Public Infrastructure Predisaster Mitigation Fund, which was established by last year’s FAA reauthorization (Public Law 115-254).

Flood Insurance and Mapping: The Flood Hazard Mapping and Risk Analysis Program received $262.5 million, the same amount as last fiscal year. The National Flood Insurance Fund, which supports the National Flood Insurance Program, received $202 million (a decrease of $1 million).

Rural Development

Rural Development: Rural development programs received $3.01 billion, totaling $10.8 million more than the previous fiscal year and $1.21 billion more than the president’s request.

Rural Housing and Rental Assistance Programs: $1 billion in single family housing direct loans and $230 million in multi-family housing guarantees were provided. Rural Housing Assistance Grants received $45 million ($15 million for rural housing preservation and $30 million for very low-income housing repair). Congress provided $1.3 billion for the Rental Assistance Program, which is expected to fund all expiring FY 2018 contracts.  

Rural Community Facilities Program: This program received level funding at $2.8 billion for direct loans to help fund rural hospitals, schools, and health clinics.

New Broadband Loan and Grant Program: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Utilities Service received an additional $550 million for the Rural Development Broadband ReConnect Program, a new broadband loan and grant pilot program that was created in the FY 2018 omnibus.

Substance Abuse Crisis

Substance Abuse Crisis Relief: Congress provided enhanced support for treatment and prevention efforts across the U.S. tackling the substance abuse crisis. This included:

  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • $1.5 billion to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s State Opioid Response Grants
  • $120 million for the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program
  • $20 million for Regional Partnership Grants to improve the coordination of services for children and families affected by substance use disorders
  • Within the total provided for Substance Abuse Treatment Programs of Regional and National Significance in the conference exploratory statement, the conferees included $12 million for grants to prevent prescription drug/opioid overdose, $36 million for first responder training, and $89 million for the Medication-Assisted Treatment for Prescription Drug and Opioid Addiction Program
  • Department of Justice
    • $77 million for drug courts
    • $22 million for veterans’ treatment courts
    • $30 million for prescription drug monitoring programs
    • $157 million for the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Program

Distance Learning & Telemedicine: $16 million was appropriated for Rural Development Distance Learning & Telemedicine Grants to help rural communities combat the crisis.

Water Infrastructure, Drinking Water, & Waste Disposal

Water State Revolving Funds: The Clean Water State Revolving Fund and Safe Drinking Water Revolving Fund programs were level funded, receiving $1.69 billion and $1.16 billion, respectively.

WIFIA Grants: The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) Grants program received a $5 million increase from FY 2018, totaling $68 million.

WRDA Grants: Congress provided $65 million in grants authorized by the 2016 Water Resources Development Act to improve drinking water in small, disadvantaged communities; schools and child care centers; and areas with lead in their drinking water.

Water and Waste Disposal Programs: The Rural Utilities Service Rural Water and Waste Disposal Program Account saw a mixed bag of funding amounts in FY 2019:

  • $1.4 billion for water and waste direct loans ($200 million increase)
  • $400 million for water and waste disposal grants (level funding)
  • $30 million for water and waste technical assistance grants ($10 million decrease)

Maci Morin

Program Coordinator at National Association of Regional Councils
I assist with NARC’s coverage of legislation and policy important to our regional members. I am also working to implement NARC’s new 501(c)(4), building our advocacy capabilities to represent regional issues at the federal level. My background includes policy and communications work for the City of San Antonio City Council and researching governmental use of data, social media, and innovative online tools at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Maci Morin

About the Author

Maci Morin
I assist with NARC’s coverage of legislation and policy important to our regional members. I am also working to implement NARC’s new 501(c)(4), building our advocacy capabilities to represent regional issues at the federal level. My background includes policy and communications work for the City of San Antonio City Council and researching governmental use of data, social media, and innovative online tools at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

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