APWA Washington Report
December 14, 2020

**Please note the next edition of the APWA Washington Report will be sent out on January 4, 2021. Please be sure to visit the ‘Advocacy News’ page on the APWA website and follow @APWAGOVAFFAIRS on Twitter to stay apprised of Government Affairs information. Best wishes to all APWA members for a safe and enjoyable holiday season.

Explore APWA’s Member Advocacy Tools:


FY 2021 Appropriations Update—New CR Expires December 18, 2020

  • Last week, Congress passed a one-week continuing resolution (CR) to keep the federal government fully operational, and allow additional time for negotiations on a $1.4 trillion fiscal year (FY) 2021 omnibus appropriations package, and possible COVID-19 relief funding;  
  • Attaching COVID-19 relief funding has been one reason for slowed negotiations, and disagreement has remained between the two chambers as to the ultimate size of a relief package, and some of the particulars to be included such as additional assistance to state and local governments, and liability protection for businesses;
  • The most-recent bipartisan $908 billion compromise proposal for COVID-19 relief reportedly includes:
    • $160 billion in aid for state and local governments;
    • $45 billion for transportation;
    • $10 billion for broadband;
    • $16 billion for vaccine development and distribution, among other proposed provisions.
  • Over the weekend, a plan was floated to split the COVID-19 proposal into two bills;
  • One bill to include $748 billion in provisions with broad support (unemployment insurance, aid for schools, vaccine distribution, and small businesses), and the more controversial (state and local aid, liability protections for businesses) be a second bill to provide $160 billion in assistance.

Senate Set to Consider WRDA Legislation

  • December 8, the House passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2020 by voice vote, and the Senate hopes to pass the legislation this week;
  • Senate leadership hopes to tie the legislation to the omnibus appropriations package currently being negotiated, however, language related to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund remains a sticking point;
  • WRDA 2020 is reduced in scope compared to previous iterations, as only activities related to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are included;
  • The bill authorizes construction of 34 projects studied and approved by the Corps since the previous WRDA was signed into law in 2018, and also authorizes 35 new Corps feasibility studies and directs the Corps to expedite the completion of 41 ongoing studies;
  • However, all provisions related to drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater were left out of the final legislation;
  • Two bills passed by the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works–S. 3590 and S. 3591–included multiple provisions on these topics that APWA supports;
  • Those bills included language related to public works and water workforce grant funding, as well as the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs;
  • APWA will continue to work with both parties and both chambers to ensure the provisions important to APWA members are considered in the 117th Congress.


New Members of the 117th Congress

  • The 117th Congress will convene in January with no fewer than 60 freshman members;
  • At least two additional, new members will be added, as two current Representatives have agreed to join the Biden Administration;
  • In the Senate, seven (7) new members are already known, including Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ), who was sworn in earlier this month;
  • California Governor Gavin Newsom will appoint a Senator to fill the seat of incoming Vice President Kamala Harris (D-CA) through the end of 2022;
  • There is also the possibility of two new Senators from Georgia, as the runoff elections for those seats will not occur until January 5;
  • Regardless of the final composition of the two chambers, APWA will promote our priorities to all members of Congress in 2021.

Trump Administration Releases Final Regulatory Agenda

  • December 9, the Trump Administration released its final Unified Agenda charting regulatory activity for the next twelve (12) months;
  • The Trump Administration has touted its record of streamlining regulations under Executive Order 13771, “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs,” which directs federal agencies to propose at least two regulations to be repealed for every new regulation announced;
  • President-elect Biden is expected to repeal that order once he assumes office;
  • The Unified Agenda states that the Environmental Protection Agency is preparing final regulatory determinations on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), and also includes language related to cost-benefit requirements for the Safe Drinking Water Act;
  • However, there is no mention of a final Lead and Copper rule, which has been under review at the Office of Management and Budget for months.

EPA Introduces Environmental Finance Clearinghouse

  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the Clearinghouse for Environmental Finance, an online database of land, air, and water information, including available funding, financing, and instructional resources;
  • The new Clearinghouse expands on the original 2017 Water Finance Clearinghouse, and is managed by EPA’s Water Finance Center, which provides information on a suite of water sector financial topics;
  • The new Clearinghouse includes over 1,800 funding and financing opportunities, and information from EPA’s air, water, and land programs.

FEMA Announces Proposed National Strategy on PPE Distribution

  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced it is seeking to establish a national strategy for the manufacture, allocation, and distribution of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic;
  • The strategy may be triggered through Section 708 of the Defense Production Act (DPA), 50 U.S.C. 4558, the“Voluntary Agreement for the Manufacture and Distribution of Critical Healthcare Resources Necessary To Respond to a Pandemic;”
  • This action allows the President to provide for the formation of voluntary agreements and plans of action by the private sector to help provide for the national defense;
  • Additionally, this authority was delegated to the DHS Secretary in section 401 of Executive Order 13603, “National Defense Resources Preparedness,” and specifically for response to COVID-19 in section 3 of Executive Order 13911.

FEMA Considering Revisions in Determining Disaster Declarations

  • FEMA announced it is accepting comments designed to help the federal government determine disaster declarations through February 21, 2021;
  • Currently, the U.S. President may authorize FEMA assistance following a disaster if the incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capacity of state, tribal or territorial government;
  • In order to comply with sections 1232 and 1239 of the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA) of 2018, FEMA is proposing revisions to the estimated cost of the assistance disaster declaration factor used in evaluating a governor’s request for a major disaster under the Public Assistance program;
  • The proposed revisions are part of an effort to assess states’ disaster response capabilities more precisely and comply with the DRRA requirement for FEMA to review and update its disaster declaration factors;
  • Since 1986, FEMA has evaluated the estimated cost of federal and non-federal public assistance against the statewide population using a per capita dollar amount indicator.

FHWA Proposes Changes to MUTCD

  • The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has released proposed changes, for the first time in ten (10) years, to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) for streets and highways;
  • The Proposed Rule Notice of Proposed Amendments (NPA) is intended to “…promote uniformity and incorporate technology advances in the traffic control device application, and ultimately improve and promote the safe and efficient utilization of roads that are open to public travel;”
  • Comments must be submitted no later than March 15, 2021, and full details are available in the Federal Register.

Potential Cabinet Officials in a Biden Administration and Committee Leadership in the 117th Congress

**Special note—the below are what is known as of the publication of the December 14, 2020 APWA Washington Report. This information is subject to change, and for multiple Congressional Committees there are potential changes, particularly in the Senate as there are two U.S. Senate seats yet to be determined through January 5, 2021 runoff elections in Georgia. APWA Government Affairs will alert APWA members of any changes, as the organizing of both the incoming Biden Administration, and the 117th Congress is completed. The nominations of future cabinet officials will be considered by the U.S. Senate in the weeks and months following the January 20, 2021 Inauguration. Stay tuned!

Water Resources and Environment Cabinet Appointments/Committee Chairs

  • Former Secretary of Agriculture in the Obama Administration, Tom Vilsack, will return to the Agency under the Biden Administration;
  • At the Department of Commerce, former Republican candidate for Governor of California Ms. Meg Whitman is under consideration as a bipartisan choice. Indra Nooyi, co-director of the Connecticut Economic Resource Center, is also a candidate;
  • For Administrator of the EPA, Mary Nichols, former Chair of the California Air Resources Board, is viewed as the frontrunner. Former regional administrator of the Agency, Heather McTeer Toney, is also a candidate;
  • The Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works will have a new ranking Republican, as Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) ascends to the top position. Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) will remain as the ranking Democrat;
  • The House Committee on Energy & Commerce will continue to be chaired by Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ), while Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) will become the Ranking Member;
  • The House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure will continue to be lead by Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO).

Transportation Cabinet Appointments/Committee Chairs

  • For Secretary of Transportation, there are two names consistently mentioned to lead the Department in a Biden Administration–former Chicago Mayor, and three-term Congressman Rahm Emanuel, and current Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti.
  • As mentioned previously, should the Republicans maintain control of the U.S. Senate following the two January 5, 2021 runoff elections in Georgia, Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) will lead the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, with Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) remaining as Ranking Member. If the Democrats gain control of the Senate in January, the roles will be flipped. The Committee has jurisdiction over public works, bridges, dams, and ports.
  • The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs, which has jurisdiction over mass transit programs, currently has Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) as Chair, and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) as Ranking Member. Senator Crapo could potentially move over to Chair the Senate Committee on Finance, and if so, Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) would move to Chair.
  • The Senate Committee on Finance, which is responsible for determining how to pay for surface transportation programs, is currently Chaired by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and he is term-limited. Therefore, as mentioned previously, either Senator Crapo will move over to Chair the Senate Committee on Finance, or Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) could become Chair. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) would remain Ranking Member.
  • The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation, which has jurisdiction over highways and transportation security, will continue to be Chaired by Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), and likely current Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA).
  • The Senate Committee on Appropriations will continue to be led by Chair Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Ranking Member Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT).
  • In the House, as mentioned previously, Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) will continue as Chair of the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure, with Representative Sam Graves (R-MO) remaining Ranking Member. The House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure has authorization in the House over all transportation programs.
  • The House Committee on Ways & Means, with jurisdiction over revenue and taxes, will continue to have Representative Richard Neal (D-MA) as Chair, and Representative Kevin Brady (R-TX) in the Ranking Member role.
  • The House Committee on Appropriations will be Chaired by Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and the Ranking Member will remain Representative Kay Granger (R-TX).

Emergency Management and Response Cabinet Appointments/Committee Chairs

  • The presumptive nominee to lead the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is Mr. Alejandro Mayorkas;
  • Nothing firm has been released, but it is possible that the President-elect might consider a Republican, including Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), to lead the Small Business Administration (SBA);
  • Jake Sullivan, former Director of Policy Planning at the Department of State, has been mentioned as a potential nominee for National Security Advisor;
  • The Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs will be chaired by Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), with Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) retaining the position of Ranking Member;
  • The Senate Committee on Small Business & Administration will continue to be chaired by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), although he is in line to take the gavel at the Senate Intelligence Committee–next in line would be Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Tim Scott (R-SC). Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) will more than likely remain as the Ranking Member;
  • House Committee on Financial Services Chair Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) is expected to stay in her role, and Representative Patrick McHenry (R-NC) will stay on as the Ranking member;
  • The House Committee on Homeland Security will continue to be chaired by Representative Bennie Thompson (D-MS), and Representative John Katko (R-NY) will be the new Ranking member;
  • The House Committee on Small Business will be led by Representative Nydia Velázquez (D-NY). At the limit of a six (6) year term for members serving as committee chairs or ranking members, current Ranking Member Representative Steve Chabot (R-OH) may seek a waiver to remain as the ranking member–Delegate Amata Coleman Radewagen of American Samoa would be the next most senior Republican member;
  • House Committee on Science, Space, & Technology Chair Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) will retain her position as Chair, and Ranking Member Representative Frank Lucas (R-OK) will stay on in his role.

Workforce Development Cabinet Appointments/Committee Chairs

  • For Secretary of Labor, Richard Gaspard, President of the Open Society Foundations, has been reported as a frontrunner. Julie Su, Secretary of the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, and Marty Walsh, Mayor of Boston, are also reportedly under consideration;
  • For Secretary of Education, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, President of the National Education Association, Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, and Representative Jahana Hayes (D-CT) are reportedly among the leading individuals being considered;
  • For the House Committee on Education & Labor, Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) will continue as Chairman, and Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) also continues as Ranking Member;
  • For the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions–where current Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is retiring–Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) is expected to be Chair or Ranking Member. Current Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) is expected to continue in her role or become Chairman.