October 05, 2020

**The APWA Washington Report will next be sent out on October 19. Neither the House nor Senate are expected to conduct legislative business over the next two weeks. Please be sure to check out ‘Advocacy News’ and @APWAGOVAFFAIRS on Twitter to stay informed on Government Affairs information, and consider checking out APWA’s Member Advocacy tools:


Update on CR and COVID-19 Negotiations

  • Last week, President Trump signed a continuing resolution (CR) passed by both chambers to keep the federal government fully functioning through December 11, 2020;
  • Of note, both the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) have been extended one-year to September 30, 2021;
  • Neither chamber is expected to conduct legislative business over the next two weeks, yet discussions related to a future COVID-19 response and recovery package are ongoing;
  • Though broad agreement exists that another round of federal economic stimulus is needed, and that supporting healthcare, schools, and unemployment is necessary, there is disagreement amongst negotiators over the size of a next COVID-19 legislative package;
  • The key negotiators are House Speaker Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin on behalf of President Trump;
  • Last Thursday, House Democrats passed a $2.2 trillion package (H.R. 925) – down from the $3.4 trillion plan they passed in May;
  • Secretary Mnuchin has proposed a plan of about $1.6 trillion;
  • Last Friday, Senate Majority Leader McConnell said the talks have “speeded up in the last few days,” though he did not speak to an outcome;
  • If an agreement is reached, lawmakers could return to D.C. for a vote, though it is unlikely the Senate would take up H.R. 925 as passed in the House;
  • A few of the public works related items included in H.R. 925 are:
    • $486 billion for state and local governments impacted by COVID-19;
    • $50 billion in grants to small businesses suffering financial losses from the pandemic;
    • $20.2 billion for the U.S. Dept. of Transportation (U.S. DOT) operations related to the pandemic;
    • $28.5 billion for transit and when combined with previous CARES Act funding, would support up to 100 percent of transit agencies annual operating expenses, and includes $2.5 billion for projects that received funding under the Capital Investment Grants (CIG) program, and $1 billion for rural and paratransit providers;
    • $1.3 billion to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for pandemic preparation and response to include $100 million for Emergency Management Performance Grants (EMPG);
    • Additionally, the bill would allow government agencies to spend their funds to cover virus-related costs incurred from January 31, 2020, through December 31, 2021, and to stem losses related to the pandemic.

APWA Advocates for Bipartisan Flood Standard Improvements

  • As part of a continuing effort, APWA has collaborated with the Pew Charitable Trusts and other organizations to send a joint letter to Congress advocating for the bipartisan “Flood Resiliency and Taxpayer Savings Act of 2020, introduced by Representative David Price (D-NY) and Representative Lee Zeldin (R-NY);
  • This yet to be numbered bill seeks to modernize the longstanding review process for federally funded projects to account for future flood risk and incorporate resiliency and mitigation measures to prevent potential damage, thereby directing federal agencies to consider and plan for future flood risk as they evaluate spending federal dollars, including the entire lifespan of a project;
  • The bill would require agency leaders to use the best available data about current and future flood risk for projects that are currently or in the future will be in flood-prone areas, including FEMA maps, state and local data, hydrologic studies, and other information;
  • In the absence of concrete data, the bill ensures agencies incorporate appropriate safeguards to shield communities (and federal investment) from future damage and loss, such as structure elevation, hardening, nature-based systems, or other mitigation strategies;
  • Catastrophic flooding events within the past year have helped to underscore the need for a cost-effective disaster risk management strategy to safeguard the nation’s infrastructure, businesses, and communities, as well as conserve taxpayer resources.

APWA Hosting Third Thursday Advocacy Jam Next Week

  • October 15, the APWA Government Affairs team is scheduled to host a Third Thursday Advocacy Jam as part of APWA’s PWX@Home;
  • Third Thursday Advocacy Jams are live, virtual, interactive discussions on advocacy topics related to public works, and an opportunity for members to ask questions and share experiences with APWA staff;
  • October’s event will primarily focus on federal disaster relief policy and changes to FEMA grant programs;
  • Please register through the APWA website to receive the webinar link.

FEMA Now Accepting Disaster Relief Grant Program Applications

  • Last week, FEMA announced it will be accepting applications for the Building Resilient Infrastructure Communities (BRIC) and the Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) grant program between September 30, 2020 and January 21, 2021;
  • BRIC, established through the Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018, provides a stable funding source for mitigation projects on an annual basis, and is used to cover costs related to pre-disaster mitigation activities, replacing FEMA’s existing Pre-Disaster Mitigation program;
  • $500 million in grants will be available through BRIC to help support states, tribes, and territories nationally in their efforts to design and erect new infrastructure projects, and will also provide incentives to local governments to adopt and enforce modern building codes;
  • FMA grants can be used to help state, local, tribal, and territorial government projects reduce or eliminate the risk of repetitive flood damage to buildings insured by the NFIP;
  • $160 million in funding is available in flood mitigation grants, with $70 million of that amount set aside for community flood mitigation projects through FMA grants;
  • Eligible applicants must apply for funding using the new FEMA Grants Outcome (FEMA GO).

CISA Unveils Telework Essentials Toolkit

  • Last week, the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released their Telework Essentials Toolkit, providing three personalized modules for executive leaders, IT professionals, and teleworkers;
  • The toolkit includes best practices and recommendations for teleworkers to develop their home network security awareness and cyber-hygiene.

CISA Releases Ransomware Guide

  • Last week, CISA and the Multi-State Information Sharing & Analysis Center (MSISAC) released their Ransomware Guide to provide best practices and recommendations on preventing, protecting and/or responding to a ransomware attack;
  • MSISAC is a voluntary and collaborative effort designated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as the primary resource for cyber threat prevention, protection, response and recovery for the nation’s state, local, tribal, and territorial governments.