United States Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, Chairman of the United States House Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Committee, is praising the 2019 Transportation and Housing and Urban Development Bill on Capitol Hill. What the bill aims to do is provide $71.8 billion in discretionary spending, which is $24 billion more than the Trump administration has called for and $1.5 billion more than last year.
U.S. Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen, chairman of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, explained that “For too long, the transportation infrastructure in our nation has been neglected, which has dampened growth and efficiency. This bill will provide a much-needed boost in funding for improvements in our infrastructure system – whether it is roads, rail, transit systems, or air and waterways. It also supports core community and housing programs to ensure shelter for our most vulnerable citizens, and to provide better opportunity for our local communities to thrive.”
Diaz-Balart added that he was “pleased to present this legislation that builds on the investments made to our nation’s infrastructure in last year’s bill. I worked with Chairman Frelinghuysen and Ranking Member Price to ensure vital programs continue to receive strong funding levels, while eliminating wasteful bureaucratic spending and protecting taxpayer dollars. The President has made it a priority to invest in our nation’s infrastructure, and I am glad we were able to deliver historic levels of funding for the second year in a row. This is another down payment towards rebuilding our nation’s roads, bridges and rail systems, while also providing critical housing improvements for our most vulnerable populations. I look forward to reviewing the bill with the Appropriations Committee and moving it to the floor for consideration by our colleagues.”
Detailing how the bill would help his home base, Diaz-Balart commented that “Right here in Southern Florida, localities can compete for the $750 million provided to the multimodal BUILD program (formerly known as TIGER) for new infrastructure projects. Our local airports can pull from the $500 million provided to Airport Grants, our community will receive needed funds from the $4.25 billion provided for Highway Grants, and our bus and rail systems can benefit from the $2.6 billion provided for Capital Investment Grants or the $800 million provided for transit infrastructure grants. With this bill, our local community is empowered to revitalize the roads, bridges, buses, and rail lines we use every day.”
He also noted that “Expanding access to affordable housing is also emphasized in this legislation. Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) are funded at $3.3 billion dollars, providing localities with the opportunity to apply for grants that address community development, poverty, and other infrastructure needs. Also included is $1.2 billion for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, which leverages this funding with private investments to create more affordable housing options. Housing for the elderly is funded at $632 million dollars, vouchers for disabled citizens is funded at $390 million dollars, and housing assistance for those living with HIV/AIDS is funded at $393 million dollars. I am confident we are helping those with the most need in this legislation.”