APWA Washington Report
February 8, 2021


**Due to next week’s Presidents’ Day holiday, the next edition of the APWA Washington Report will be sent out on February 22, 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.
 
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LATEST NEWS


Congress Clears Way for COVID-19 Stimulus Plan

  • Last week, Congress passed S. Con. Res. 5, a concurrent resolution setting forth the congressional budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2021 and setting forth the appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2022 through 2030;
  • Congress will now take up President Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion dollar “American Rescue Plan,” and can now pass the proposal by a simple majority, instead of by a two thirds majority normally required to approve budget reconciliation legislation;
  • S. Con. Res. 5 specifically includes the following:
    • Outlays of $6.14 trillion in fiscal 2021 and revenue of $2.3 trillion, for a net deficit of $3.84 trillion;
    • Places a cap on advance appropriations, allowing the House and Senate Budget Committee Chairs to adjust budget allocations to reflect updated baselines or changes in budget concepts.
  • If signed into law, the “American Rescue Plan” would allocate:
    • $806.5 billion for loans that can be forgiven for eligible expenses through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP);
    • $416 billion toward a national vaccination program;
    • $350 billion for state and local governments;
    • $30 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) to fully reimburse states, localities, and tribes for critical emergency response resources;
    • Approximately $10 billion toward enhancing cybersecurity and technology infrastructure.
  • Congress could vote on the President’s proposal before the end of the month;
  • Click here to view APWA’s letter of support for the inclusion of aid to State and Local governments in the next COVID-19 stimulus plan.

APWA Hosting Congressional Brief on Infrastructure

  • February 12, APWA, in cooperation with the House Public Works & Infrastructure Caucus, is scheduled to hold a virtual congressional briefing, “The Road Ahead: Public Works and Infrastructure in the 117th Congress;”
  • The briefing is intended to educate members of Congress, their staff, and federal agency staff on priorities for public works as Congress and the White House consider infrastructure legislation;
  • The briefing will feature APWA President Mary Joyce Ivers and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Scott D. Grayson, CAE as moderators, with a panel of public works professionals sharing their on-the-ground experiences and priorities with policy issues impacting public works and infrastructure;
  • The briefing is open to all APWA members free of charge – please email APWA Government Affairs Associate Michael Altman at maltman@apwa.net to register.

Senate Agrees on Power-Sharing

  • Last week, the Senate came to agreement on how it will conduct its business for the next two years with the unanimous adoption of Senate Resolution 27;
  • The Senate is divided between Democrats and Republicans, 50-50, with control going to the Democrats with Vice President Harris being the tie-breaking vote, when needed;
  • The last time the Senate was divided 50-50, was early in the Presidency of George W. Bush;
  • Like then, the present agreement has all Senate Committees evenly divided in membership, and if deadlocked in a vote in Committee, a measure would go to the full Senate for consideration;
  • The top-ranking Democrat in each Committee serves as Chair, and Committee budgets and staff are now to be evenly split, just as in 2001.

White House Policy Increases FEMA COVID-19 Assistance

  • The White House announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will be increasing their federal cost share amount to 100% to cover the costs of activities related to the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • This would cover COVID-19 related costs that have previously been determined eligible, beginning January 2020 to September 30, 2021;
  • Click here to view the FEMA statement on this policy change.

Senate Committee to Vote on DOL Nominee

  • February 11, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions is scheduled to vote on the nomination of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to be Secretary of the Department of Labor (DOL), which is responsible for a wide range of workforce development initiatives helping to maintain a skilled workforce;
  • At a hearing February 4, Mayor Walsh answered questions on a variety of issues and gained bipartisan support, with Ranking Member Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) urging his colleagues to vote in favor of his nomination;
  • Several senators questioned Mayor Walsh on the importance of workforce training, creating alternate career pathways, and preparing for the changing future of work;
  • Mayor Walsh emphasized his experience in working with employers in Boston to establish job training programs and committed to working to strengthen these programs;
  • It appears likely the committee will advance his nomination, and while timing for a confirmation vote by the full Senate is unknown, a speedy confirmation may be possible.

Senate Committee to Vote on DOE Nominee

  • February 11, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions is scheduled to vote on the nomination of former Connecticut Commissioner of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona to be Secretary of Education;
  • In this role, he would lead the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), which is responsible for oversight and implementation of Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs that provide students with the skills necessary to succeed in a wide range of public works careers;
  • At a hearing February 3, Dr. Cardona responded to questions on a variety of issues and appeared to have significant bipartisan support, with Ranking Member Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) speaking in support of his nomination;
  • Senators questioned Dr. Cardona regarding whether he supports federal policies to support CTE at the same level as traditional four-year degrees and how to ensure guidance counselors provide information of CTE career pathways to students;
  • Dr. Cardona stated his strong support for CTE programs in both K-12 and post-secondary education and agreed that raising awareness of alternative career pathways should be a priority;
  • It appears likely the committee will advance his nomination, and while timing for a confirmation vote by the full Senate is unknown, a speedy confirmation may be possible.

Senate Committee to Vote on EPA Nominee

  • February 3, Michael Regan, currently the Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, faced the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works as nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA);
  • The hearing was cordial throughout, and Regan received praise from members of both parties;
  • Questions from Republican members of the committee focused on the Biden Administration, specifically Executive Orders issued by the White House;
  • Regan told the committee that he intends to make environmental justice a focus of the agency, and plans to bring a special advisor on board to cover the issue;
  • Regan was asked about the Navigable Waters Protection Rule during the hearing, and he promised to hear from all parties;
  • When asked about the Navigable Waters Rule, Regan promised to listen to both parties and said that the 2019 rule was “a rollback that went even further back than presidents of both our parties;”
  • Regan stated that his goal would be a regulation that is clear and understandable, and not overly burdensome;
  • Regan also stated he would make remediation of Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) a priority for the Agency;
  • The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee announced today that they will hold a vote tomorrow (February 9) on Regan’s nomination.

APWA Participates in NHSC Winter Virtual Meeting

  • APWA member Mark Ray, Director of Public Works for the City of Crystal, MN was joined by APWA Government Affairs Manager Marty Williams during the (virtual) annual National Homeland Security Consortium(NHSC) winter meeting;
  • The meeting, held over a three-day period focused on pulling together an “After Action Report” (AAR) on the challenges, needs, best practices and solutions to assist first responders and emergency managers with a focus on pandemics and other emergency situations, expected to be available this spring;
  • During the meeting, advocacy efforts continued on behalf of public works professionals and the crucial role they play in maintaining and supervising our nation’s critical infrastructure during emergencies and disasters;
  • The NHSC provided a United States Coast Guard (USCG) National Response Center (NRC) informational brochure;
  • NRC works in conjunction with federal agencies including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), FEMA, and the Department of Transportation (DOT);
  • Click here for details on applying for additional NRC information.

DOT Secretary Sworn into Office

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas Sworn into Office

  • Alejandro Mayorkas was sworn-in by Vice President Kamala Harris last week, following a 56-43 vote in the U.S. Senate to serve as DHS Secretary;
  • Mr. Mayorkas, an immigrant born in Cuba, served as a former U.S. Attorney, and during the Obama Administration he held positions as the Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and as a Deputy Secretary within DHS, in the role of Deputy, focusing on cybersecurity as well as immigration issues.

FEMA Launches COVID-19 Vaccine Support Webpage

  • FEMA announced it will be providing a COVID-19 Vaccine Support webpage, emphasizing it is an additional tool to be used in concert with information provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention;
  • Additionally, Department of Defense (DOD) Secretary Lloyd Austin announced that starting over the next few weeks, 1000 active-duty military personnel will be deployed nationally to assist efforts at vaccination centers;
  • Along with approving the vaccination center locations, state governments would need to agree to allow troops to serve in this capacity, and if so, the costs associated with this deployment charged to states would be 100% reimbursable from the federal government;
  • A vaccine center is considered federally supported based on three characteristics:
    • It is a state, local, tribal, or territorial established vaccine center that is receiving any combination of federal personnel, material or funding;
    • The federal support enables the center to open, remain open, or expand capacity;
    • The center is, or has been, operational on or after Jan 20.
  • For more information, please contact APWA Government Affairs Manager Marty Williams at mwilliams@apwa.net.

FHWA Proposes Changes to MUTCD – Deadline Extended to May 14, 2021

  • The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has released proposed changes, for the first time in 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 were originally due by March 15, 2021, though the deadline has now been extended to May 14, 2021 and comments should be submitted through the Federal Register.

APWA Hosting Online Water Resources Events in February

  • As part of PWX@Home, APWA is hosting a series of events related to water resources in the month of February;
  • There are three separate sessions on water resources during the PWX@Home Spotlight On Series:
    • Presentations on trenchless technologies, PFAS impacts, and sanitary sewer system overflows are scheduled the be held February 9 at 2:00 p.m. ET;
    • The Virtual Stormwater Summit is scheduled to be held February 17-18 at 11:00 a.m. ET;
    • The Summit features seven (7) virtual education sessions selected by APWA’s Water Resources Management Committee for presentation;
  • Attendees will have the opportunity to interact with presenters via a question-and-answer opportunity at the end of each session, as well as network and learn from other attendees;
  • February 25 at 11:00 a.m. ET, APWA is scheduled to hold a Click, Listen, and Learn (CLL) session on Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), centered around how it gets into our water and wastewater, its risks, and current thinking in public works.

ON THE HORIZON