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House and Senate Approves Spending Bill, President Signs Compromised Legislation

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On Feb. 14, the House and Senate voted to approve a spending bill, avoiding another partial government shutdown. While the legislation did not meet the president's demand for border wall funding, he signed the compromise legislation. He then took executive action in order to obtain the money the administration wants for border barriers.

The bill includes some increases for federal construction accounts, including $3 billion over FY2018 funding levels for the Federal-Aid Highway Program. However, the bill fails to include relief for current holders of temporary immigrant work authorizations—impacting 120,000 construction workers with Temporary Protected Status or in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program. In addition, the bill does not provide emergency construction project funding for areas impacted by 2018 disasters, including hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

The bill provides the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with $1.375 billion for 55 miles of border fencing, though there are several restrictions on how border fencing funding can be used. These restrictions include a ban on the use of concrete, limiting fencing designs to those used in 2017, and prohibition on construction in sensitive environmental areas. (The White House announced that the president would sign the compromise legislation, but will also take executive action in a bid to get the money the administration wants for border security.)

The funding bill also gives DHS the authority—in consultation with DOL—to increase the H-2 cap (temporary/seasonal work visas) for FY 2019 to 135,320. The increase of visas will be subject to the administrations approval because the bill does not mandate the full allotment.

Other notable funding provisions in the bill include:

  • Federal-Aid Highway funding at $48.6 billion — 3.7% above FY 2018;
  • Build Grants at $900 Million — 40% decrease from FY 2018;
  • Airport Improvement Program Grants at $3.85 Billion — 11.5% decrease from FY 2018;
  • Transit Formula Grants at $10.6 Billion — a slight increase from FY 2018;
  • Capital Improvement grants at $2.6 Billion — slight decrease from FY 2018;
  • Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund at $1.2 billion — Equal to the FY 2018;
  • Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) Grants at $68 million (Title II: $10 million, Title IV: $58 million) — $5 million increase the FY 2018;
  • Rural Development at $3.64 billion for Rural Development. This includes $625 million in funding dedicated for infrastructure investments in Rural America;
  • Water and Electric Infrastructure for rural water and waste program loans at $1.45 billion — $200 million increase the FY 2018;
  • Water and Waste Grants at $475 million for — $425 million decrease the FY 2018;
  • and Clean Water State Revolving Fund at $1.7 billion (Title II: $1.4 billion, Title IV: $300 million) — Equal to FY 2018.

You can read the text of the Conference Report by clicking here. You can read the text of the Joint Explanatory Statement by clicking here.

For more information, contact Jordan Howard at or (703) 837-5368.


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