"And what's been done is ending...The funding was puny by any measure and that's now being cut."
...the fact that House Republicans are working to cut funding for the initiatives means the funding for these initiatives, which received little to no attention in the past, was "puny."
Let me quote directly from the OP:
Obama’s most far-sighted effort — and the one that best illustrates what he’s up against — is the Sustainable Communities Initiative, which brings together the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to decide where government development dollars are best spent. How sensible, you’re thinking — let’s get the people who build the roads (or train lines or bike lanes) together with those that oversee housing and development policy, and toss in the people charged with making sure that we don’t create a mess of the environment in the process. But this wasn’t happening before.
Over the past two years, the partnership doled out roughly $200 million in sustainable community grants to promote dense, transit- and pedestrian-friendly development. The 2011 grants helped create a loan fund to build affordable housing and a food distribution hub near public transit in Sacramento, Calif.; fund a revitalization plan for the St. Charles parish in New Orleans; improve access to public transit for low-income residents in Boston; create a sustainable building code for the Kansas City region; and the list goes on. (For a much more detailed description of all this, check out Alyssa Katz’s supergreat story, “Reverse Commute,” in The American Prospect.)
Initiatives start somewhere, and the point is that these are getting attention from the administration. The goal and purpose is to ensure that the funding continues and is expanded. It's clear the administration will find funding for the programs where it can, including from its discretionary funds.
Now, these may not mean much to you, but they are vital to the programs that rely on them.