Little blood shed as compromise transportation, housing bill advances

On a day when House Democrats and Republicans skirmished over financial reform and environmental spending proposals, the 2013 transportation and housing spending bill passed out of the Appropriations Committee in a relatively congenial atmosphere.

The bill is set to become the seventh of 12 annual spending bills to receive a House floor vote.

The bill cuts spending by nearly $4 billion compared to current funding, with most of that coming out of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

HUD administration costs, Section 8, Choice Neighborhoods and Sustainable Community programs all get cut.

On the other hand, Community Development Block Grants get a $400 million increase and Homeless Assistance Grants get a $100 million increase.

On transportation, the two sides also found areas to compromise and held up the bill as a contrast to the troubled highway authorization bill, which stands on the precipice of a failed House-Senate conference committee this week.

“I’d encourage my Republican colleagues to take a lesson from the Appropriations Committee where we can still get our work done and where willingness to reach bipartisan compromise is still considered a virtue, not a flaw,” Appropriations Committee ranking member Norm Dicks (R-Wash.) said at the markup.

Overall the “THUD” bill contains $51.6 billion in funding, $2 billion below Obama’s request.

Amtrak gets more money and the Federal Aviation Administration’s NextGen air traffic control modernization effort also gets an increase.

On the other hand, Capital Investment Grants are cut by $418 million and the Federal Transit Administration loses $181 million.

“[W]e tried to be balanced in our approach with this bill, but rejected new, unauthorized programs requested by the president,” said Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa), the spending cardinal in charge of the bill.