The President and Congressional leaders were unable to reach a deal to avert the sequester and last Friday, orders went out to most government agencies to begin implementing the cuts. However, due to the nature of programs funded through the Highway Trust Fund and how the sequester was crafted, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is exempted from the 5% cut. States’ MCSAP programs should not be impacted by the sequester. The same holds for most programs within the Federal Highway Administration. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration’s grants are exempt from the sequester, but the portion of the agency’s operations and research budget that is funded through general funds is subject to the 5% cuts. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is subject to the sequester.
Meanwhile, the current continuing resolution (CR) that funds government programs expires March 27th. This CR funds transportation programs at the 2012 levels and does not incorporate the slightly higher funding levels agreed to in MAP-21 last year. On Wednesday, the House passed a new full year continuing resolution that would fund government programs at post-sequester levels. As noted above, because FMCSA is exempt from the sequester, the funding level for the year would remain close to the 2012 levels. However, the new CR does contain a small, tenth of a percent cut across the board, which would apply to the MCSAP program. However, the House bill has not yet passed the Senate and negotiations will likely continue over the next few weeks, as the March 27th deadline approaches.