Continuing Resolution Funds Federal Government Through December 2018

The new fiscal year begins on October 1 but, as frequently occurs, Congress was unable to pass the necessary appropriations bills to keep the federal government open. Instead, Congress passed a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the federal government at fiscal year 2018 levels through December 7, 2018. The CR was included as part of the fiscal year 2019 (FY19) Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill in order to ensure its passage prior to the new fiscal year. While the levels of funding for the INFRA (formerly FASTLANE) competitive grant program are laid out in the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, the delay of FY19 funding for the U.S. Department of Transportation means that the necessary funds are not yet available. However, it is unlikely that the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) will wait until the passage of a Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations package before releasing the notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) for the next round. Indeed, it is rumored to be coming this fall - FY19 appropriations or no.

Congress has made some progress on THUD appropriations. The Senate's bill passed, as part of a larger minibus package, in August 2018. The bill provided around $26.8 billion for USDOT in FY19 and included $1 billion for the BUILD (formally TIGER) grant program. This is $500 million less than FY18 levels (increased greatly due to a two-year budget deal that raised federal spending caps for FY18 and FY19) but still $500 million more than traditional TIGER levels. Additionally, the bill called on USDOT to use the merit criteria laid out in the Obama Administration's 2016 NOFO for the TIGER grant program in awarding funds.

The House has also introduced its own THUD bill, but has not yet passed the legislation. The House's bill included around $27.9 billion for USDOT, $750 million of which is for the BUILD program. The bill mandated that BUILD project selections be evenly distributed between rural and urban areas and also called for $250 million of the funds to be used for port projects. It is likely this bill will be included in either a minibus or folded in to a large omnibus.