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LAW: House panel approves transportation funding cuts

A House panel approved legislation on Tuesday evening that would cut funding for the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) by over half a billion dollars.

The House Appropriations subcommittee on transportation, housing and urban development advanced a spending bill to provide $17.8 billion in discretionary funding for the U.S. DOT in the fiscal year 2018. That figure is $646 million less than current levels—a 3.7% decrease—but is $1.5 billion more than what President Trump requested for the agency.

The spending measure would entirely eliminate the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program, which was created by the Obama administration but never actually authorized by Congress. The TIGER program has become a popular funding tool among cities and states because of its wide range of eligibility.

House Republicans have long targeted the program for cuts, and President Trump proposed killing TIGER grants in his budget request. The House DOT appropriations bill would zero out the $500 million a year program.

The DOT spending bill also reduces funding for the for the Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program, known as New Starts, by $660 million, bringing its total allocation to $1.75 billion.

The rest of the DOT spending bill would allow $45 billion from the Highway Trust Fund to be spent on the Federal-Aid Highways Program and prohibit funding for high-speed rail in California. It also includes $100 million in new funding for automated vehicle research and development, which Congress has been increasingly focused on.

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