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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Federal-Aid Highway Program: An Overview



Robert S. Kirk
Specialist in Transportation Policy

The federal government has provided some form of highway funding to the states for roughly 100 years. The major characteristics of the federal highway program have been constant since the early 1920s. First, most funds are apportioned to the states by formula and implementation is left primarily to state departments of transportation (state DOTs). Second, the states are required to provide matching funds. Until the 1950s, each federal dollar had to be matched by an identical amount of state and local money. The federal share is now 80% for non-Interstate System road projects and 90% for Interstate System projects. Third, generally, federal money can be spent only on designated federal-aid highways, which make up roughly a quarter of U.S. public roads.


Date of Report: October 26, 2012
Number of Pages: 12
Order Number: R42793
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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Federal Civil Aviation Programs: An Overview



Bart Elias
Specialist in Aviation Policy

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) programs and activities are funded under four broad budget accounts: operations and maintenance (such as air traffic control and aviation safety functions); facilities and equipment (such as control towers and navigation beacons); grants for airport improvements under the airports improvement program (AIP); and civil aviation research and development conducted or sponsored by FAA. Additionally, aviation programs fund aviation programs administered by the Department of Transportation (DOT) Office of the Secretary, including the Essential Air Service Program that subsidizes airline service to certain small and isolated communities. These programs are funded primarily through a special trust fund, the airport and airways trust fund (AATF), and, in part, through general fund contributions.

Other federal entities also play significant roles in civil aviation. These include the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which conducts extensive research on civil aeronautics; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which provides research and operational support to FAA regarding aviation weather forecasting; the Transportation Security Administration in the Department of Homeland Security, which has authority over civil aviation security; and the National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates aviation accidents and makes safety recommendations to FAA. These programs are not considered in this report. This report focuses on FAA and DOT civil aviation programs addressed in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-95), enacted on February 14, 2012, which authorizes AATF taxes and revenue collections and civil aviation program expenditures through FY2015.



Date of Report: October 17, 2012
Number of Pages: 13
Order Number: R42781
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Monday, October 15, 2012

Essential Air Service (EAS): Frequently Asked Questions



Rachel Tang
Analyst in Transportation and Industry

On February 14, 2012, President Obama signed into law a four-year reauthorization of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) programs, the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-95; hereinafter referred to as the 2012 FAA Reauthorization Act). The act is the first longterm authorization for federal civil aviation programs since 2007, and was enacted following 23 short-term extensions.

The Essential Air Service (EAS) program was a focus of controversy during this legislative process. The final legislation included policy reforms and changes to the funding of the EAS program.

This report provides an overview of the EAS program and discusses the changes introduced by the FAA reauthorization bill.



Date of Report: October 3, 2012
Number of Pages: 12
Order Number: R41666
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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Surface Transportation Funding and Programs Under MAP-21: Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (P.L. 112-141)



Robert S. Kirk, Coordinator
Specialist in Transportation Policy

John Frittelli
Specialist in Transportation Policy

Linda Luther
Analyst in Environmental Policy

William J. Mallett
Specialist in Transportation Policy

David Randall Peterman
Analyst in Transportation Policy


On July 6, 2012, President Barack Obama signed the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21; P.L. 112-141). The act authorized spending on federal highway and public transportation programs, surface transportation safety and research, and some rail programs and activities through September 30, 2014. MAP-21 authorized roughly $105 billion for FY2013 and FY2014 combined. It also extended FY2012 surface transportation authorizations to the end of the fiscal year, raising the total authorization to approximately $118 billion.

Most of the funding for surface transportation bills has been drawn from the highway trust fund (HTF) since its creation in 1956, but the HTF, which receives revenue mainly from federal motor fuel taxes, has experienced declining revenue due to a sluggish economy and improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency. For the past several years, HTF revenue has been insufficient to finance the government’s surface transportation programs, leading Congress to delay reauthorization for 33 months following expiration of the last multi-year reauthorization. Although Congress was unable to agree on a long-term solution to the HTF revenue issue, MAP-21 did provide for the transfer of sufficient general fund revenues to the HTF to fund a two-year bill.

MAP-21 made major changes in the programmatic structure for both highways and public transportation and included initiatives intended to increase program efficiency through performance-based planning and the streamlining of project development. Among its major provisions, MAP-21 included:


  • for the federal-aid highway program, research, and education, authorizations for FY2013 of $40.96 billion and for FY2014 of $41.03 billion;
  • for public transportation, authorizations for FY2013 of $10.58 billion and for FY2014 of $10.7 billion;
  • for the Transportation Infrastructure Financing and Innovation Act (TIFIA), which provides credit assistance for surface transportation projects, a significant expansion that could provide credit support of up to $690 million for FY2013 and $9.2 billion for FY2014;
  • major program restructuring, which reduced the number of highway programs by two-thirds and consolidated public transportation programs as well; • more distribution of funding via apportionment to the states and less discretionary funding via the Department of Transportation (DOT) to individual projects;
  • no project earmarks;
  • no equity program, instead basing the distribution of highway funding on the FY2012 distribution such that each state will likely receive as much federal highway funding as its highway users paid to the highway account of the HTF; and
  • changes in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance process intended to accelerate project delivery.


Date of Report: September 27, 2012
Number of Pages: 37
Order Number: R42762
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