Was TIGER Eliminated in the Shutdown Deal?

Soon after the government shutdown ended, we heard murmurs that the TIGER grant program for innovative transportation projects had been a casualty of the negotiations.

Congress's inability to do anything has meant a temporary de-funding of TIGER. Photo: ##http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:US_Capitol_Building,_East_side_steps_and_dome.jpg##Wikimedia##

Under the rules of the Office of Management and Budget, any program that was de-funded in either chamber’s bill would be de-funded in the continuing resolution (the temporary budget) until it can be replaced by an approved appropriations bill. That’s to ensure compliance with the Anti-Deficiency Act, which basically says Congress shouldn’t allocate money to a program for a given year if it’s later going to say that program has no budget for that year.

The House, as usual, de-funded TIGER in its budget proposal, while the Senate dutifully allocated $474 million for the fifth round of TIGER grants and another $550 million for a sixth round. Neither chamber passed the budget on the floor, but the OMB rule that ended up de-funding TIGER only requires that the bill be voted out of committee, which it was in both chambers.

Thankfully, this CR only lasts through January 15, 2014. But then what? Congress has four options:

  1. Pass a 2014 budget. Outlook: negative. Congress hasn’t passed a budget since 2009. It’s nice of the Senate to even bother going through the motions these days, which they didn’t for a few years. If Congress did, miraculously, agree on a budget to send to the president, it’s anyone’s guess whether TIGER would be included.
  2. Pass another continuing resolution through the end of FY2014. That would reinstate TIGER funding at last year’s levels, since there would be no risk of a full-year bill violating the Anti-Deficiency Act. Technically, the House could insist on a rider to the CR zeroing out TIGER, but those sorts of things severely gum up the process and it’s unlikely they’d bother for something so small and low-profile.
  3. Pass another short-term CR for just a few weeks or months. TIGER and just about everything else would remain in limbo.
  4. Shut down the government. It could happen.

Even worse: On January 15, when a new budget or CR will have to come into effect to prevent yet another government shutdown, they’ll have to deal with a new round of sequester cuts. Luckily, much of the painful part is already over. Though the 2014 cuts look big — $109.3 billion — that’s the reduction from pre-sequestration levels, not 2013 levels. “Only” another $20 billion needs to come out of the budget this time around, and almost exclusively from defense. So the most vulnerable transportation programs like New Starts and Amtrak, which come out of discretionary, not mandatory, spending, needn’t suffer too much.

That won’t stop the House from trying, of course.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

LaHood Wants More TIGER Aid in the Congressional Jobs Bill

|
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood made a splash yesterday by announcing that the U.S. DOT would look at the environmental and community-building benefits of transit projects, not just their adherence to a government cost-effectiveness standard. Washington D.C.’s proposed K Street transitway, pictured above, is one of many projects vying for TIGER money. (Photo: The City Fix) […]

TIGER Restored, Transit Expansion Funds Cut in 2016 Spending Bill

|
As the House and the Senate get to work on hashing out a multi-year transportation bill in conference committee, Congress is also putting together its annual spending package for transportation. The annual bill decides the fate of several discretionary programs, and earlier this year it looked like US DOT’s TIGER grants, which tend to fund multi-modal projects at […]

After Big Push From Mayors, TIGER in Line For Slight Funding Boost

|
There’s good news out of the Senate committee responsible for doling out transportation funds. Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee okayed a small increase in TIGER funding, according to Stephen Lee Davis at Transportation for America. TIGER is the program that allows local governments to compete directly for transportation funds, circumventing state DOTs, and helps get a […]

Now Open for Bids: The Fourth Round of TIGER Grants

|
Transportation leaders, take your best shot. Applications are being accepted for $500 million in federal funding through the fourth round of U.S. DOT’s TIGER grants. DOT has renewed its commitment to this groundbreaking program, which awards money on a competitive basis to projects that have the potential to make a “significant impact on the nation, […]

Will Congress Keep TIGER Going?

|
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced this week that U.S. DOT is seeking applications for $500 million in TIGER grants — the eighth round of funding since the program was launched in 2009. TIGER is small compared to other federal programs, but it has quickly become an important source of funding for projects like the Indianapolis Cultural Trail or Tampa’s Riverwalk […]