On June 19, the U.S. House Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Department of Transportation (DOT) approved legislation that undercuts funding for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) overall, but fully funds safety grant programs during fiscal year 2014, according to the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA).
The appropriations measure, which covers funding for both the Department of Transportation and the Department of House and Urban Development, was forced to undergo a $7.7 billion cut in order to meet the demands of the recent sequestration. While the entire DOT will see a bigger decrease, NHTSA’s appropriation will be reduced by $10.6 million from the Obama Administration’s requested funding; with $1.5 million taken from the vehicle safety area that finances rulemakings enforcement and other new car assessments and $9.1 million slashed from the highway safety research and development account that studies crash avoidance systems, crash test dummies, and other vehicle crash simulations and data collection.
According to Subcommittee Chairman Tom Latham, R-Iowa, “We had to make some tough choices, and we were able to meet three main priorities: MAP-21 programs, air traffic controllers, and housing renewals.” MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century) is the 2012 passed national transportation bill that set-out to cut the number of DOT programs, consolidate funding, and streamline approvals for road construction and maintenance. Some safety advocates worry the shortfall will hinder both state and federal transportation authorities from fulfilling their MAP-21 duties.
The next step for the funding bill is to be considered by the full House Appropriations Committee on June 27, where it will most likely be amended.