A Senate subcommittee included 550 million for the TIGER program The companion bill in the House does not included any grant funding for TIGER File photo

A Senate subcommittee included $550 million for the TIGER program. The companion bill in the House does not included any grant funding for TIGER. (File photo)

Senate's transport appropriations bill includes $550 million for TIGER program

Committee schedules Thursday hearing on fiscal 2018 legislation

A Senate subcommittee advanced a fiscal 2018 transportation appropriations bill that includes funding for the popular TIGER grant program, a departure from the House legislation and President Trump’s budget request.

Overall, the Senate bill would provide $19.47 billion in discretionary appropriations for the U.S. Department of Transportation for fiscal 2018, $978 million above 2017 levels. The Senate Committee on Appropriations is scheduled to hold a hearing on the bill on July 27 after the subcommittee chaired by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) approved it.

“This bipartisan bill is the product of considerable negotiation and compromise, and makes the necessary investments in our nation’s infrastructure … and provides funding for economic development projects that create jobs in our communities,” Collins said in a statement.

The Senate bill includes $550 million for the popular TIGER grant program, a $50 million increase from current levels. However, no funding for TIGER was included in the version of the bill that passed a House committee earlier this month. President Trump’s budget request did not include TIGER.

Collins made news after the hearing when she was heard on a microphone criticizing Trump’s “irresponsible” budget approach.

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine

The Senate language calls for $45 billion from the Highway Trust Fund to go to the federal-aid highways program, which is consistent with the FAST Act. 

It includes $908.6 million for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and $744.8 million for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

No amendments were offered, at the request of Collins. Instead they will be considered during Thursday’s hearing. An amendment to the House bill would force FMCSA to study if there should be a delay to the electronic logging mandate. The House bill also contains language that would prohibit states' meal and rest break rules for truckers.

Once each of the bills are approved by the full legislative bodies, House and Senate negotiators will have to hammer out a single compromise version to send to Trump. 

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