Panel sets up clash on transportation, housing

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday moved forward with a $54.4 billion transportation and housing spending bill, setting up a clash with the House and its $2.4 billion-smaller version.

The bill passed out of subcommittee and heads for a full committee markup on Thursday. The House Appropriations Committee reported out its version on May 21.

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“We were given a better allocation, so we were able to fund some of our legacy projects that are so important, like Amtrak and highways,” subcommittee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said. “I think the House is going to have to decide where they are going to go at the end of the day, if they are going to reallocate or how they are going to do it.”

“There are investments that everybody knows are important,” she added.

The THUD bill, as it is know in congressional parlance, will be difficult to pass in 2014 because the Federal Housing Finance Agency is delivering some $4 billion less in revenue to the budget this year. The House bill only addresses part of the shortfall, while the Senate bill compensates for it by using other tools, like shifting security spending into a war funding account elsewhere, to give THUD a more generous allocation.

Major Senate-version differences include an $550 million funding level for TIGER infrastructure grants, compared to $100 million in the House version, and $1.39 billion for Amtrak, which is $200 million more than in the House.

Full committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) highlighted Senate spending on Section 8 housing, lead paint control and funding for the D.C. metro.