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Congress Unveils Final 2020 Transportation Bill

December 17, 2019

Mixed Bag for Funding, Key Victories for Policy

by Sean Jeans-Gail, Vice President | Gov't Affairs & Policy

Last night, Congress unveiled its bipartisan spending agreement, the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act 2020 (H.R. 1865). The bill takes a step back in several areas, with $586 million in cuts to funding for key rail and transit programs below FY2019 levels—equivalent to a 3.6 percent drop in funding. On the policy side, Rail Passengers secured the majority of the goals we outlined, laying a solid groundwork for FY2021 and the upcoming reauthorization.

The news wasn't all bad: Amtrak was a clear-cut winner, with appropriators budgeting $2 billion for the railroad, an increase of $58 million over last year.

However, rail grant programs supporting new and improved service suffered significant cuts. While the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure & Safety Grants got through relatively unscathed, the Federal State of Good Repair program was cut in half compared to FY2019 levels.

Public transportation, meanwhile, received $12.9 billion in total. Transit formula grants received a slight boost, but the Capital Investment Grants program—a critical tool used to launch new rail services—lost over half a billion dollars in funding.

While the funding was a decidedly mixed bag, the bill contains a number of important policy wins that Rail Passengers fought hard for, including protections for the National Network, a funding set aside for new equipment, restoration of station agents, and more.

[You can see our full accounting of the rail funding levels and policies below.]

The House passed the bill today by a vote of 297 – 120, and the Senate is expected to pass the bill in short order. The White House will have until December 20th to sign the bill into law to avoid a government shutdown.


Federal rail funding (in millions)

FY2019 Appropriated Levels

FAST Act FY2020 Authorized Levels

Rail Passengers FY2020 Request

House THUD FY2020 Proposal

Senate THUD FY2020 Proposal

FY2020 Appropriated Levels


Amtrak - National Network







Amtrak - NEC







Consolidated Rail Infrastructure & Safety Grants







Federal State Partnership For State Of Good Repair







Restoration & Enhancement Grants














Transit Formula Grants







Capital Investment Grants














Total Transit







Policy Riders

  • National Network: expresses the sense of Congress that long-distance passenger rail routes and services should be sustained to ensure connectivity throughout the National Network.
  • Amfleet Replacement: provides $100 million to support the acquisition of new single-level passenger equipment in proportion to the use of this equipment for Amtrak’s NEC, state-supported and long-distance services.
    • FRA is directed to count State acquisition costs and ongoing capital charges related to Amtrak’s new fleet to count as a local match for any future applications to the CRISI or SOGR grant programs.
  • Station Agents: directs Amtrak to provide a station agent in each Amtrak station that had a ticket agent position eliminated in fiscal year 2018.
  • Food & Beverage: directs Amtrak to provide a report to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, no later than 120 days after enactment describing the changes initiated or implemented to Food and Beverage services in FY2019 and comparing those savings with Amtrak projections.
  • Commuter Tax Credit: repeals a 2017 provision the created new limitations to the commuter benefit, which (among other things) required nonprofits to pay taxes on the value of the transit benefits provided to employees.
  • Amtrak Police: directs Amtrak to submit a comprehensive workforce analysis for the Amtrak Police Department with 90 days of enactment of the bill and to notify the Committees no less than 60 days in advance of any restructuring of the Amtrak Police Department workforce.
    • Amtrak is prohibited to use funds from this bill to reduce the total number of Amtrak Police Department uniformed officers patrolling on board passenger trains or at stations, facilities or rights-of-way below the staffing level on May 1, 2019.