House passes transportation, HUD funding bill

The House passed an appropriations bill on Tuesday that would fund both the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through Sept. 30, 2016.

The bill would earmark billions of dollars in funding for both departments’ sub-agencies. For DOT, that includes the Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Highway Administration, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Federal Railroad Administration and the Maritime Administration.

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), chairman of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations, sponsored the bill and said the provisions go a long way to further congressional infrastructure priorities.

"Many roads, bridges and tunnels across America are in dire need of restoration, and the legislation provides $40.3 billion toward their repair and renovation,” Diaz-Balart said.

Another $15.9 billion went to the Federal Aviation Administration to ensure full funding of air traffic control and its personnel. More than $3 billion would be invested in upgrading railroads with better safety measures.

The appropriations bill’s wording also allowed the trucking industry to use longer 33-foot twin trailers on the nation’s highways, a move applauded by industry advocates.

The funding bill also made a political statement with provisions that limit U.S. cooperation with Cuba, despite the Obama administration’s goal of repairing relations between the two countries.

Diaz-Balart said rules prohibiting new flights to Cuba and denying licenses to Cuban marine vessels "further core American values and safeguard the property rights of Americans.”

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