September 28, 2020

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House Passes Funding Bill; Senate Action Tuesday

  • September 22, the House of Representatives voted 359 to 57 to pass H.R. 8337, a continuing resolution (CR) bill to keep the government operating through December 11;
  • The Senate then voted 93 to 2 in a procedural vote to clear the way for a final vote expected on September 29;
  • The funding package allows for most government agencies to remain open through the December 11 date at current funding levels, but there are additional funding changes;
  • A main point of contention between House Democrats and Senate Republicans was funding for the Department of Agriculture’s Commodity Credit Corporation;
  • That entity received $30 billion in funding as part of a last-minute compromise;
  • Specific to public works, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) received a one-year extension;
  • The FAST Act, which governs a majority of surface transportation programs across the country, currently expires on September 30;
  • Leaders in both parties said the extra year would give Congress time to work on a long-term reauthorization of surface transportation programs;
  • The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed a reauthorization bill last year, but the other three Senate committees with jurisdiction have yet to take action;
  • The House passed a broad transportation and infrastructure bill, H.R. 2, earlier this year, but that bill was passed closely along party lines and is unlikely to see movement in the Senate;
  • The CR also included nearly $1.5 billion in funding for the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service Rural Water and Waste Disposal program;
  • The CR also reauthorizes the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) through September 30, 2021;
  • The Senate is expected to vote on the bill Tuesday and if it passes President Trump will likely sign it into law shortly thereafter;
  • While the government will be funded for a short period, work on another COVID relief legislative package has stalled;
  • House Democrats recently released a new plan after both sides had largely given up due to weeks-long stalemate;
  • The new package is roughly in line with previous Democratic plans, though significantly less costly at around $2.3 trillion;
  • That figure is still more than the $1.5 trillion President Trump has indicated he would accept, and more than the $650 billion figure Senate Republicans put forward;
  • While both sides agree that a deal is unlikely before Election Day, some members of Congress are holding out hope for a deal during the post-election lame-duck session.

Apprenticeship Reauthorization Bill Advanced by Committee

  • September 24, the House Committee on Education & Labor voted 26-16 to advance H.R. 8294, the National Apprenticeship Act of 2020;
  • The vote was along party lines, with Democrats supporting the bill and Republicans in opposition;
  • The bill represents an attempt to reauthorize and modernize the National Apprenticeship Act of 1937, which governs the registered apprenticeship system, a key tool for employers to provide on-the-job training to potential employees;
  • Provisions of H.R. 8294 include:
    • Authorizing $3.5 billion over 5 years for new grant programs that aim to create up to 1 million new apprenticeship opportunities and expand apprenticeships to new occupations;
    • Authorizing $475 million over 5 years to support State Apprenticeship Agencies, which are certified by the Department of Labor (DOL) to regulate registered apprenticeships in their state;
    • Codifying and streamlining standards for registered apprenticeships, youth apprenticeships, and pre-apprenticeships;
    • Creating a National Advisory Committee on Apprenticeships and an interagency agreement between DOL and the Department of Education (DOE) to support youth apprenticeships.
  • Republican members of the committee expressed support for apprenticeships, but opposed the bill’s lack of funding for Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs);
  • Timing for a vote by the full House of Representatives has yet to be announced, and the bill in its present form is unlikely to pass the Republican controlled Senate.

House to Vote on Cybersecurity and Emergency Management Legislation

  • The House plans to vote this week on several bills related to cybersecurity and emergency management, including the following;
  • H.R. 5823, the “State and Local Cybersecurity Improvement Act”, introduced by Representative Cedric Richmond (D-LA), to establish grants to address cybersecurity risks and cybersecurity threats to information systems for state, local, tribal, or territorial governments;
  • H.R. 1289, the Preserving Home and Office Numbers in Emergencies Act of 2019, introduced by Representative Mike Thompson (D-CA), which would restrict the reassignment of telephone numbers during a declared major disaster, except at the request of the subscriber during a period in which a major disaster has been declared;
  • H.R. 5780, the Safe Communities Act of 2020, introduced by Representative Lauren Underwood (D-IL), to require that CISA provide additional information and support to state, local, and private sector entities to assist in safeguarding their critical infrastructure.

U.S. DOT Announces $320 Million in CRISI Grants


FEMA Releases Results from Annual Disaster Preparedness Survey

  • Last week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released its “Annual Disaster Preparedness Survey” results;
  • Metrics measured includes financial preparedness, homeowners’ or renters’ insurance policies, and flood insurance policies;
  • More than 5,000 adults were surveyed in both English and Spanish;
  • The survey is a nationally representative sample focused on hazard-specific samples for tornado, flood, hurricane, wildfire, earthquake, and urban events;
  • The survey tracks progress in personal disaster preparedness via study of the American public's preparedness actions, attitudes, perceptions, and motivations;
  • Additionally, the annual survey, conducted since 2007, is used as a tool to assess how the culture of disaster preparedness and resilience has changed.

October Marks 17th Annual National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

  • The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) marks October as National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) for the 17th year, and each week CISA has assigned a designated theme;
  • October 1 and 2 is the official NCSAM Kick-off, the week of October 5-if You Connect It, Protect It, the week of October 12-Securing Devices at Home and Work, the week of October 19-Securing Internet-Connected Devices in Healthcare, and the week of October 26-The Future of Connected Devices;
  • Additional information is available on CISA’s website, including cybersecurity resources, sample social media posts and graphics, and best practices.