Trump budget proposes 13 percent cut to Transportation Dept

The Department of Transportation (DOT) faces a $2.4 billion cut under President Trump's proposed federal budget blueprint — a surprising figure given Trump's pledges to improve U.S. infrastructure.

The department's funding would be cut by 13 percent, to $16.2 billion, according to the proposal released early Thursday.

"The Budget request reflects a streamlined DOT that is focused on performing vital Federal safety oversight functions and investing in nationally and regionally significant transportation infrastructure projects," the budget document says.

"The Budget reduces or eliminates programs that are either inefficient, duplicative of other Federal efforts, or that involve activities that are better delivered by States, localities, or the private sector."
 
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The budget limits funding for the Federal Transit Administration's Capital Investment program, eliminates funding for the Essential Air Service program and ends federal support for long-distance Amtrak trains.
 
The blueprint also eliminates funding for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program, which was set up by the Obama administration’s 2009 economic stimulus package to provide an extra injection of cash for surface transportation projects.

The grants are appropriated by Congress every year but were never authorized. The proposal estimates that scrapping the program would save $499 million annually.
 
TIGER grants are a popular funding tool among cities and states. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao expressed support for TIGER grants and the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan program during her confirmation hearing.

But the program has drawn the ire of Republicans, who have sought to eliminate or reduce the grants in previous spending bills.

“If [TIGER grants] were to be cut, then it’s big time trouble,” Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), ranking member on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, told The Hill last week.

“Department of Transportation TIGER grants are something that are considered essential to rehabbing our infrastructure.”

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who chairs the Senate Appropriations transportation subcommittee, has promised to protect the grants in any spending bill. 

"This so-called ‘skinny’ budget exposes the big fat lies President Trump has told the American people when it comes to rebuilding our transportation infrastructure," said Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), ranking member on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. "I would pronounce it dead on arrival, but my Republican colleagues have beat me to the punch.”

Trump vowed as a candidate and after winning the White House to improve the nation's infrastructure, calling for repairing U.S. roads, bridges and airports.
 
“Crumbling infrastructure will be replaced with new roads, bridges, tunnels, airports and railways gleaming across our beautiful land,” Trump said during a joint address to Congress last month.
 
“To launch our national rebuilding, I will be asking the Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion investment in the infrastructure of the United States — financed through both public and private capital — creating millions of new jobs.”
 
This report was updated at 10:16 a.m.