APWA Washington Report 9.14.20

September 14, 2020

Inform yourself of APWA Government Affairs by checking out APWA’s Member Advocacy tools:


Both Chambers Return to Session this Week

  • The Senate was in session last week, and this week the House returns to DC;
  • With multiple deadlines on the horizon, both chambers have busy weeks ahead – the current fiscal year expires September 30, as does the current surface transportation law Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, and the National Flood Insurance Program;
  • No fiscal year 2021 appropriations measures have been signed into law, and therefore a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the federal government funded is inevitable – though its length has not yet been determined;
  • Additionally, throughout the summer prospects became grim for finding agreement on a future COVID-19 response/recovery package, and last week the Senate failed to pass the Republican-backed “skinny” bill to address ongoing pandemic needs;
  • The legislation was a targeted $500-$700 billion investment to the economy, including an extension of emergency unemployment benefits of $300 per week;
  • The legislation also included language to protect businesses, schools and other establishments from liability related to coronavirus exposure;
  • Democrats announced their opposition to the legislation, stating they wanted more funding for state and local governments, among other items;
  • While Congressional leaders have not stated they are done negotiating, they have not laid out specific steps to reach a compromise;
  • The House passed a Democrat-sponsored $3.4 trillion COVID-19 package in May, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called the bill a non-starter in the Senate;
  • President Trump signed four (4) executive orders in August seeking to address some needs and to allow time for negotiations;
  • President Trump’s orders do the following:
    • Defer payroll tax collections for those earning under $100,000;
    • Renew unemployment benefits at $400 a week, with the federal government providing $300 in supplemental benefits and the states paying $100 of that total – previously it was $600 a week from the initial CARES Act passed in March;
    • Defer student loan payments and forgives interest;
    • Renew a moratorium on housing evictions.
  • APWA Government Affairs has consistently weighed in on behalf of the Association’s public policy priorities – read our APWA Advocacy Lettersto learn more.

APWA Supports Year-long FAST Act Extension

  • Last week, APWA and 87 other organizations sent a letter to House and Senate Leadership urging that if an extension of the FAST Act is needed, it must be a year-long to provide certainty and consistent funding;
  • In addition to calling for a clean, one-year extension, we are calling on Congress to:
    • Provide emergency federal funding for state departments of transportation and public transit agencies – $37 billion and $32 billion, respectively;
    • Include provisions to ensure solvency of the Highway Trust Fund for the duration of the extension, at a minimum.
  • Reauthorization legislation S. 2302 was passed by the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works in July 2019, but the full chamber has not yet considered the bill;
  • The House passed surface transportation provisions in H.R. 2 this past July, and President Trump put forth his FY2021 budget proposal in February 2020;
  • None of these proposals have been agreed upon, and most importantly, how to pay for the next reauthorization has not been identified.

APWA and U.S. House Public Works & Infrastructure Caucus to Host Virtual Hill Brief

  • September 22 at 10:30 a.m. ET, APWA and the U.S. House Public Works & Infrastructure Caucus have scheduled a virtual hill brief titled, “Drones and Public Works - Assisting in Emergency Management;”
  • This is the second virtual hill brief APWA has hosted since May of this year;
  • The brief will be moderated by APWA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Scott D. Grayson, CAE and include APWA President Mary Joyce Ivers of Ventura, California, APWA Member Ray Funnye of Georgetown County, South Carolina and a representative from the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) division as panelists.

APWA Government Affairs Hosting Advocacy Jam this Thursday

  • September 17at 3:30 p.m. ET, APWA Government Affairs will host our monthly Third Thursday Advocacy Jam as part of APWA’s PWX@Home;
  • The Advocacy Jam is a live virtual event that is free of charge and intended as an open, collaborative discussion on public policy issues impacting public works in both the U.S. and Canada;
  • This month’s focuses will include surface transportation reauthorization, the return of Canada’s House of Commons, advocacy tools and more.

FEMA Releases Interim COVID-19 Reimbursement Policy

  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced the release of an interim policy titled, "COVID-19 Pandemic: Work Eligible for Public Assistance;"
  • This interim policy was established to clarify eligible work under the Public Assistance (PA) program related to the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • This policy will apply to relevant work conducted on, or before, September 15, 2020.

FEMA Announces Updates on Grant and Mitigation Planning Programs

  • August 28, FEMA announced updates to its Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) program to reflect current statutory authority and agency practices;
  • FEMA’s HMA program regulations consist of the Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) grant program, the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), financial assistance for property acquisition and relocation of open space, and mitigation planning program regulations;
  • The primary intent is for FEMA to update terms and definitions throughout the HMA and Mitigation Planning program regulations to better align with uniform administrative requirements that apply to all federal assistance;
  • Submit public comment in the Federal Register through October 27, 2020.

CISA Announces Malicious Domain Blocking and Reporting

  • Last week, the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) announced they will be providing a Malicious Domain Blocking and Reporting (MDBR) service;
  • This is a joint effort with the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Multi-State Information Sharing & Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) and Election Infrastructure ISAC (EI-ISAC);
  • MDBR was designed to prevent IT systems from connecting to harmful web domains, helping limit infections related to known malware, ransomware, phishing and other cyber threats;
  • MDBR is available at no cost to state, local, tribal and territorial government members of the MS-ISAC and EI-ISAC;
  • The MS-ISAC is grant-funded by CISA.