July 13, 2020
 
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House Committee Rushes to Approve Spending Bills

  • The House Committee on Appropriations was busy last week, approving multiple fiscal year (FY) 2021 spending bills;
  • The full Committee and Subcommittees are working to pass bills to be considered by the full House before the FY ends on September 30;
  • The full Committee also approved the overall spending levels for each subcommittee on July 9, by a vote of 29-21;
  • The allocations total $1.3 trillion in spending, with an additional $247 billion in funding for emergency spending related to the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • All 12 bills were passed through the relevant subcommittees, and five of those were passed by the full Committee;
  • The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, & Related Agencies (T-HUD) bill was approved by the Subcommittee by voice vote on July 8;
  • That bill includes the following provisions:
    • $75.9 billion in overall discretionary funding, a 2.2% increase over FY 2020;
    • $75 billion in emergency funding for FY 2021 in response to COVID-19;
    • Full funding for the highway and transit programs of the FAST Act, which expires September 30, 2020;
    • $1 billion for the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant program, plus an additional $3 billion in emergency funding;
    • $2.2 billion for the Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program;
    • $2.5 billion in emergency aid to airports for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA);
    • $500 million in supplemental funding to the Airport Improvement Program.
  • The Homeland Security bill was approved by the Subcommittee by voice vote on July 7;
  • That bill includes the following provisions:
    • The proposed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) budget of approximately $50.7 billion in discretionary funds remains flat from FY 2020;
    • DHS funding includes $10.8 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is an overall reduction of $11.7 billion from FY 2020;
    • Also, within the FEMA budget, $3.66 billion would be targeted for grants and training, an increase of $1.1 billion from FY 2020;
    • $5.66 for the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF), a $12.2 billion decrease from FY 2020;
    • The DHS request also includes the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Agency (CISA), which would receive approximately $2.2 billion, an increase of approximately $239 million from FY 2020.
  • The Commerce, Justice, & Science bill was approved by the Subcommittee by voice vote on July 8;
  • That bill includes the following provision:
    • The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would receive approximately $5.4 billion for FY 2021, an increase of $101.9 million from FY 2020.
  • The Labor, Health, and Human Services, & Education bill was passed by the Subcommittee by voice vote on July 7;
  • That bill includes the following provisions:
    • Funding for the Department of Labor (DOL) at $12.7 billion, a $254 million increase from the FY 2020 enacted level, including;
    • $10.2 billion for the Employment Training Administration, an increase of $187 million from FY 2020, which includes the following workforce development programs;
    • $2.9 billion for Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act State Grants, an increase of $50 million from FY 2020;
    • $185 million for Registered Apprenticeships, an increase of $10 million from FY 2020;
    • Funding for the Department of Education (DOE) at $73.5 billion, an increase of $716 million from FY 2020, including;
    • $2 billion for Career, Technical & Adult Education, an increase of $25 million from FY 2020.
  • The Interior, Environment, & Related Agencies bill was passed by the full Committee by a vote of 30-19 on July 10;
  • That bill includes the following provisions:
    • Funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would be $9.38 billion, an increase of $318 million from FY 2020;
    • The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program would receive $71 million, an $11 million increase from FY 2020;
      • However, language inserted in the bill would rescind any unobligated balances from previous years unless EPA complies with the Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990.
    • The Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) program would receive $1.64 billion, commensurate with FY 2020 levels;
    • The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) program would receive $1.13 billion, on par with FY 2020 levels;
    • The DOI Wildland Fire Management program would see funding in the amount of $5.7 billion for FY 2021, an increase of $174 million from FY 2020;
    • The United States Geological Survey (USGS) would receive $1.2 billion, keeping it relatively flat from FY 2020.
  • While the House has moved on the spending bills, the Senate has not moved forward on its original plan to have its spending bills done by the July 4 recess, it has not considered any of the 12 bills at the subcommittee level;
  • Senate leadership has expressed a desire to move bills prior to the August recess, however, some individual senators have expressed doubt about that schedule being possible;
  • The Senate would need to conference its spending bills with the House versions, which will be difficult as there will likely be differences between the chambers;
  • There is also no guarantee that President Trump would sign all 12 merged spending bills;
  • A Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the federal government past September 30 will likely be necessary.

APWA Supports LOCAL Infrastructure Act

  • July 8, APWA issued a letter of support for S. 4129, the Lifting Our Communities through Advanced Liquidity for Infrastructure Act, or LOCAL Infrastructure Act;
  • The bipartisan legislation would help communities invest in local infrastructure by reinstating the advance refunding of municipal bonds, providing substantial savings to taxpayers throughout the country;
  • Prior to the enactment of the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act of 2017, governmental bonds and 501(c)(3) bonds were permitted one advance refunding;
  • Advance refunding allowed public issuers to take advantage of fluctuations in interest rates to realize considerable savings on debt service, ultimately benefiting taxpayers;
  • APWA opposed the changes to the tax code made in 2017 that removed advance refunding;
  • Tax-exempt municipal bonds allow local governments to finance roads, water infrastructure, public utilities, health care facilities, and much more;
  • Local governments save an average of 25 to 30 percent on interest costs with tax exempt municipal bonds (as compared to taxable bonds).

Share How COVID-19 Impacts Your Community

  • July 9, APWA sent an action alert to our members urging them to share their unique experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic with Congress;
  • It is critical public works professionals share their stories of continuing to provide essential services and facing new challenges as some states reopen to ensure needed resources are distributed appropriately;
  • Please note that unlike previous action alerts, the "suggested email" is mostly blank so you can provide your own experiences - please be sure to finish the email before sending.

FHWA Announces ATCMTD Funding Opportunity

  • July 6, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) published a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for its Advanced Transportation & Congestion Management Technologies Deployment (ATCMTD) program grants;
  • $60 million in grant money is available for State Departments of Transportation, local governments, transit agencies and others to apply for funding to invest in technologies to address critical safety issues and efficiency;
  • The due date for applications is August 31, 2020.

FEMA Hosts BRIC Engagement Webinars

  • FEMA continues to hold informational webinars to educate the public on the Building Resilient Infrastructure & Communities(BRIC) grant program;
  • BRIC, the revised FEMA pre-disaster hazard mitigation program that replaces the existing Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) program, was established as a result of amendments made to Section 203 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief & Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act) by Section 1234 of the Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018 (DRRA);
  • BRIC’S offers support for states, local communities, tribes and territories in their efforts to address hazard mitigation projects and reducing the risks they face from disasters and natural hazards.

CISA Releases Second of Six Planned Cyber Essentials Toolkits

  • CISA recently released the second and latest edition of the CISA Cyber Essentials Toolkits titled, “Your Staff, The Users;”
  • This follows the June release of the first of six Cyber Essentials Toolkits titled, “Yourself, The Leader;”
  • The Cyber Essentials Toolkits break down each of the CISA Cyber Essentials into manageable items for IT and C-suite leadership to work toward full implementation of each Cyber Essential.

CISA Releases Industrial Control Systems Guidance

ON THE HORIZON