House Republicans on Tuesday punted plans to vote on a housing and transportation government funding bill over concerns from some in the party about a proposed drop in dollars for Amtrak.
The House was expected to vote on legislation — which lays out billions of dollars in funding for programs within the Department of Transportation and Department of Housing and Urban Development for most of next year — on Tuesday. But those plans were scrapped at the last minute after members’ concerns brought into question its chances of passage.
Ahead of the vote on Tuesday, Rep. Nick LaLota (R-N.Y.) told The Hill he wouldn’t be voting for the measure, citing concerns over Amtrak funding.
Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-N.Y.), who had also expressed concerns last week about what the bill would mean for Amtrak funding, similarly said hours before the vote that his concerns remained.
“I think that many of us are comfortable reining in federal spending, but not disproportionately impacting our region,” he said, adding that proposed cuts in the bill “are just too significant.”
A summary of the bill updated last week set the proposed price tag at little more than $90 billion in discretionary funding, falling more than 8 percent below what President Biden requested in his budget. That spending level is still a small boost above the previous fiscal year’s allocation, the summary says, partly due to efforts aimed at offsetting “plummeting housing receipts” and ensuring “eligible recipients of housing assistance do not lose their assistance due to inflation.”
“In order to address these shortfalls and fund Republican priorities, the bill eliminates several programs and makes deep cuts to others, especially those that received large amounts in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” the summary states.
Among those spending reductions is a drop in Amtrak funding to more than $1 billion below fiscal 2023 levels — a key concern for some Republicans that had also caused leadership to scrap plans to bring up the bill last week.
House Republicans are attempting to work quickly to approve their partisan spending plans in the weeks ahead to strengthen their hand in for spending talks with Senate Democrats.
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who heads the spending subcommittee that crafted the housing and transportation funding bill, expressed optimism to reporters that the measure would pass “by the end of this week,” with hopes of negotiations for a bipartisan deal with the Senate beginning not long after.
The measure is one of the party’s 12 annual government funding bills members had hoped to pass this month.
But that goal seems increasingly out of reach, and with GOP leadership struggling to unify the conference behind multiple spending plans, Congress is beginning to shift focus to striking a deal to avert a government shutdown ahead of a looming deadline next week.
Mychael Schnell contributed.