APWA Washington Report 1.11.21
January 11, 2021

*Due to the upcoming Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on January 18, the next edition of the APWA Washington Report will be sent out on January 25.

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.

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U.S. Senate Control

  • As a result of the two January 5, 2021 election runoffs in Georgia, the Senate balance of power is 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, with Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris to be the tie-breaking vote when needed;
  • Senate Leaders Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will now flip roles with Senator Schumer becoming Majority Leader and Senator McConnell becoming Minority Leader, and they will be working out rules for operating for the 117th Congressional session;
  • The Senate is meeting in pro-forma session and is not expected to begin its legislative business until January 21, 2021;
  • Finalizing of House and Senate Committee rosters will occur over the coming days and weeks, and APWA Government Affairs will be monitoring developments and conducting outreach.

COVID Relief and Infrastructure Package Expected Early

  • When President-elect Joe Biden is officially sworn in as President on January 20, his first order of legislative business is expected to be more relief funding to address the impacts of COVID-19;
  • It is expected that increasing relief payments to $2,000 for individuals, and a possible tax and infrastructure package estimated to be around at least $3 trillion will be considered in the first weeks and early months of the new Biden Administration;
  • Last summer, candidate Biden released his ‘Build Back Better’ plan, which proposes relief funds for caregivers, incentives for manufacturers, and trillions in spending focused on ‘green’ jobs and infrastructure spending;
  • President-elect Biden is also speaking publicly about his intentions to increase the rollout of vaccines;
  • APWA Government Affairs is engaging with the new Congress and Administration based on our Public Policy Priorities for the 117th Congress.

EPA Releases “Secret Science” Rule

  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science rule, which governs the use of scientific and health data by EPA in its rulemaking procedures;
  • The final EPA rule requires the Agency to give more weight to studies for which the underlying "dose-response," which is essentially the amount of a pollutant's negative impact on public health, data is publicly available;
  • Although the Rule doesn't force EPA to outright ban the use of nonpublic scientific research, it requires the Agency to give those studies "lesser consideration;”
  • In effect, however, the Rule aims to restrict research that relies on medical records or other data that cannot be made public due to privacy laws;
  • Last week, the Biden transition team stated it plans to issue a memo to "freeze" a bevy of Trump Administration regulations and proposed rules, which is typical when a new Administration of the opposite party is elected;
  • EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has stated that the new Rule would not be subject to the Congressional Review Act;
  • Since the Rule only applies to internal EPA actions and procedures and does not affect people outside the government, it is essentially a “housekeeping” rule;
  • Legal and environmental scholars have disputed that interpretation, and critics of the Rule have stated that its implementation would slow the regulatory process when it comes to substances like Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS);
  • Studies into the health effects of exposure to PFAS chemicals contain a myriad of health data points, many of which cannot be made public due to privacy laws;
  • President-elect Biden has stated support for prioritizing regulating PFAS through mechanisms like setting a maximum contaminant level (MCL).

NOAA Releases Final 2020 Disaster Report

  • The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its final 2020 disaster report, which includes details on the 22 separate billion-dollar weather and climate disasters that occurred nationwide in 2020;
  • According to the NOAA records, from 1980 through 2020, 285 weather and climate disasters causing overall damage exceeding $1 billion have hit the nation;
  • The 2020 numbers eclipse the previous annual record of 16 disaster events, which took place both in 2017 and 2011.

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

*Please note this information could change with the Senate still needing to complete its rules and operating procedures, and composition of its Committees for the 117th Congress. The Senate is now split 50-50, with the Democrats set to control the Chamber due to incoming Vice-President Kamala Harris serving as the tie-breaking vote.

Transportation Cabinet Appointments/Committee Chairs

  • For Secretary of Transportation, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg is the nominee, and current Secretary Elaine Chao has resigned her post effective today;
  • Leading the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, which has jurisdiction over public works, bridges, damns and ports, will be Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) as Chair, with Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) as Ranking Member;
  • The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs, which has jurisdiction over mass transit programs, will have as Chair Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and either Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) or Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) may be Ranking Member;
  • The Senate Committee on Finance, which is responsible for determining how to pay for surface transportation programs, will be chaired by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), and for Ranking Member, it will either be Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) or Senator John Cornyn (R-TX);
  • The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation, which has jurisdiction over highways and transportation security, will be chaired by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), with Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) serving as the Ranking Member;
  • The Senate Committee on Appropriations will have as Chair Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and as Ranking Member Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL);
  • The House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure, which has authorization in the House over all transportation programs, will continue to be led by Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR), with Representative Sam Graves (R-MO) remaining Ranking Member;
  • 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).

Water Resources and Environment Cabinet Appointments/Committee Chairs

  • President-elect Biden has nominated Michael S. Regan of North Carolina to be the EPA Administrator;
  • Representative Deb Haaland (D-NM) has been nominated to serve as Secretary of the Interior;
  • Former Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack of Iowa has been nominated by President-elect Biden to again fill that role;
  • The Senate Committee on Appropriations will be chaired by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), while the Ranking Member will be Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL);
  • The Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works will be chaired by Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), and the ranking Republican will be Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV);
  • The House Committee on Appropriations will be led by Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), with Representative Kay Granger (R-TX) as the Ranking Member;
  • House Committee on Energy & Commerce Chair Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ) will retain his position as Chair, while Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) will serve as Ranking Member;
  • The House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure will again be chaired by Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR), with Representative Sam Graves (R-MO) as Ranking Member.

Emergency Management and Response Cabinet Appointments/Committee Chairs

  • Alejandro Mayorkas is President-elect Biden’s nominee to lead the Department of Homeland Security (DHS);
  • Isabel Guzman has been nominated to lead the Small Business Administration (SBA);
  • Jake Sullivan, former Director of Policy Planning at the Department of State, remains the lone mentioned potential nominee for National Security Advisor;
  • The Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs will be chaired by Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), serving as the Ranking Member;
  • The Senate Committee on Small Business & Administration will be chaired by Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), with Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) assuming the role of Ranking Member, although Mr. Rubio is in line to take the gavel at the Senate Intelligence Committee – should he change this committee assignment, the next in line would be Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Tim Scott (R-SC) to serve 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;
  • House Committee on Homeland Security Chair Representative Bennie Thompson (D-MS) will continue in his role, 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, Mayor of Boston and former union organizer Marty Walsh has been nominated by President-elect Biden;
  • For Secretary of Education, the nominee will be Connecticut Commissioner of Education and former public-school teacher Dr. Miguel Cardona;
  • For the House Committee on Education & Labor, Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) will continue as Chair, and Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) also continues as Ranking Member;
  • For the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions, last session’s Ranking Member Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) is expected to become Chairman, and Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) is expected to become Ranking Member.