Obama plan for annual high-speed rail funding approved by House and Senate Democratic conferees
I’ve just read through the conference report of the U.S. FY 2010 Budget Resolution, which outlines spending in fiscal year 2010, and serves as the agreement between the House and Senate versions of the bill. The report includes the $1 billion for high-speed rail that President Obama asked to be included in the budget, in addition to the $8 billion already included for fast rail service in the stimulus bill. The report also sided with the House’s larger $481 billion in transportation outlays to be spent over the next five years, versus the $477 billion that had been proposed by the Senate. This report, though not yet voted on by Congress – a necessary action – will almost definitely be approved and passed into law after being signed by the President because of large Democratic majorities in both houses.
In other words, good news from Congress: support for transportation remains strong, important considering that the transportation reauthorization bill, good for six years, will be put under consideration over the next few months. While the bill’s tepid support for rail improvements (we need a lot more than $1 billion a year for true high-speed rail) isn’t the greatest news, at least Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND), who forced $10 billion out of the bill, didn’t decide to sacrifice Mr. Obama’s proposals for transportation programs in the process.
There wasn’t much to expect out of the budget, though, and this report doesn’t surprise. What’s exciting is SAFETEA-LU‘s replacement.