The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that authorizes funds for highways and transportation next fiscal year -- but not including money for the federal truck safety agency.
Rep. Frank Wolf, R-VA, so far is making good on his promise not to fund the Office of Motor Carrier and Highway Safety until its organizational status is changed. Wolf wants OMCHS moved out of its current home in the Federal Highway Administration. His preference is that it be housed in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, although he remains open to the idea of a new Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
The funding issue will come to a head when the Senate passes its transportation appropriations bill, which does not contain Wolf's ultimatum.
Under the bill, highway spending in Fiscal Year 2000 will go up by almost 9%, from $25.5 billion to $27.7 billion. Included in the highway spending is a fuel tax windfall of $1.5 billion -- money that President Clinton had proposed spending elsewhere.
Even without the OMCHS funding, motor carrier safety gets a 15% increase of $9.3 million over the initial budget request, up to $70.5 million. An additional $105 million would go to the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program.
The House bill gives transit programs a 7% increase of $407 million, up to $5.8 billion, and meets the president's request for $571 million for Amtrak.