GOP-Controlled House Passes Funding For Transportation, Housing

| by Ethan Brown
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Members of the U.S. House of Representatives passed a closely-watched transportation funding bill in the late hours on June 9, of which President Barack Obama has already threatened to veto if the bill advances to his desk. The funding bill applies to the 2016 fiscal year.

The transportation bill, which would cost the government $55.3 billion, was approved by a 216 to 210 vote in the GOP-controlled House. Thirty-one Republicans opposed the measure, along with all but three Democrats. The vote was cast after House Republicans, the chamber’s majority, voted down proposed Democratic amendments, such as increased funding for Amtrak.

The Obama administration has threatened to veto the bill, largely because of their disappointment with the allocation of funds to different organizations and government departments. For example, while the budget for Amtrak was cut by $242 million, the budget for the Pentagon was increased by seven percent. Also, the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget was reduced by nine percent. Amtrak and the EPA still receive government funding ranging in the billions of dollars; the EPA’s budget is still valued near $70 billion, NBC Philadelphia reported.

The transportation bill has also come under close scrutiny after the massive Amtrak train accident that occurred in Philadelphia on May 12. In the House-approved budget, Amtrak will receive $1.13 billion in government funding, down from $1.4 billion in 2015. Included in the funding will be requirements for Amtrak officials to update their services with cameras on the train to better analyze the case in the event of another accident.

However, most of Amtrak’s funding will go to pay off the organization’s debt, which regularly increases due to high operating costs and low usage in some parts of the country. The Northeast is the most lucrative area for Amtrak, raking in $357 million in profits this year alone.

The legislation will also drastically cut funding to housing projects for low-income families, despite Democrats opposing the measure. The housing projects will receive only $1.7 billion in the budget, with only $20 million going to Choice Neighborhoods grants. These grants help cities rebuild low-income neighborhoods, NBC Philadelphia reports.

The House still has to pass seven more funding bills by the end of the year, according to The Hill. Legislation to fund armed forces, construction programs for the military, energy and water programs, and the Department of Veterans Affairs have already passed.

Sources: The Hill, NBC Philadelphia 

Photo Credit: nps.gov, Wikipedia