APWA Washington Report
April 19, 2021


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LATEST NEWS

Infrastructure Update

  • President Biden is set to host another bipartisan infrastructure discussion at the White House today;
  • Following up on the President’s $2.25 trillion 'American Jobs Plan' introduced March 31, 2021, and two previous bipartisan meetings at the White House, infrastructure focused legislation is expected to be introduced, and marked-up by committees in both chambers prior to Memorial Day;
  • Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has stated she would like the House to pass an infrastructure package prior to July 4;
  • President Biden is set to give his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on April 28, and certainly infrastructure is expected to be a primary topic he will cover in his speech;
  • While bipartisan support is very strong for ‘infrastructure’ investment, and for completing the next surface transportation reauthorization before the current law expires September 30, 2021, what specifically will be included and defined as infrastructure needs to be worked out, as well as how to pay for these investments;
  • Additionally, whether there will be one all-encompassing infrastructure package, or multiple packages with different focus, needs to be determined;
  • Last week, the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee held a hearing focused on the insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund and how to pay for a surface transportation reauthorization bill;
  • An archived webcast of the hearing, and all submitted testimony is available;
  • APWA calls for specific policy solutions and strong federal commitment in the Association’s ‘Public Policy Priorities’ for the 117th Congress;
  • The APWA Government Affairs team continues to engage directly and consistently with Congressional leaders, committees, and the Executive Branch;
  • Please contact APWA Director of Government and Public Affairs Andrea Eales at aeales@apwa.net with any questions about APWA’s Government Affairs activities and priorities.

APWA Joins 17 Transportation Groups Calling for Increased Surface Transportation Funding

  • On April 15, APWA and 17 other transportation groups sent a joint letter to Congressional leadership calling for the current investment backlog of $756 billion for roads and bridges to be addressed;
  • The $756 billion assessment is based on methodology used in the U.S. DOT Status of the Nation's Highways, Bridges, and Transit: Conditions & Performance Report, 23rd Edition;
  • The letter also requests that as the infrastructure package(s) move forward, along with the next surface transportation reauthorization is drafted, Congress use existing highway and transit formulas and existing rail grant programs for distributing funding.

House Public Works and Infrastructure Caucus Formally Reestablished

  • The House Public Works and Infrastructure Caucus was recently officially reestablished for the 117th Congress;
  • The bipartisan Caucus was first established in the House of Representatives in 2016, and is currently led by co-chairs Representative Dina Titus (D-NV) and Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA);
  • The Caucus has proven to be a valuable tool in educating members of Congress and Congressional staff on the essential services public works agencies provide, as well as the need for investment in our nation’s infrastructure;
  • A full list of current Caucus members can be found here– if your Representative is not listed, please reach out directly to ask them to join by using APWA’s action alert.

American Rescue Plan Updated Disbursement Guidelines Released

  • April 16, the U.S. Department of Treasury (Treasury) released updated guidelines on how states and locals should plan to request and disburse funds through the recently enacted American Rescue Plan (ARP);
  • The $350 billion dollars for state and local governments can be used in covering certain costs associated with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Direct payment from Treasury will be made to states, territories, tribal governments, counties, and metropolitan cities;
  • All federal financial assistance recipients are required to have a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number and an active registration with the System for Award Management (SAM) database at SAM.gov;
  • Additional information on the Treasury announcement and directions on how to request assistance can be found here.

Senate to Vote on Key Water Infrastructure Legislation

  • This week, the full Senate is currently expected to vote on S. 914, the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act;
  • This bipartisan bill, which was unanimously advanced by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, would authorize $35 billion in water and wastewater funding and financing over 5 years;
  • The bill aligns with APWA’s priorities in several areas, including reauthorizing and increasing funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Funds and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, reauthorizing the Water Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act program, and establishing public works agencies as eligible recipients for federal water workforce development initiatives;
  • APWA previously issued a letter of support for this bill, and in the coming days will engage our members to contact their Senators and ask that they pass this important legislation;
  • Should the bill pass, it will be the basis for bipartisan and bicameral negotiations with the House of Representatives on a broad water infrastructure package;
  • More information on the bill can be found here.

White House CEQ Chair Confirmed by U.S. Senate

  • On April 14, the U.S. Senate confirmed Brenda Mallory as Chair for the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ);
  • The Chair is responsible for advising the President on matters related to the environment, natural resources, and public health in these areas;
  • Chair Mallory has previously served on CEQ as well as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA);
  • For more information about Chair Mallory and the CEQ, please click here.

Legislation to Combat PFAS Reintroduced in House of Representatives

  • April 13, Representative Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Representative Fred Upton (R-MI) introduced the PFAS Action Act;
  • This legislation, which was passed with bipartisan support in the House of Representatives in the last Congress, but was not taken up by the Senate, aims to combat per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a group of harmful chemicals found in the nation’s water supply;
  • Among other provisions, the bill would:
    • Require the EPA to establish a national drinking water standard for PFAS chemicals perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) within two years,
    • Designate PFOA and PFOS chemicals as hazardous substances within one year and require the EPA to determine whether to list other PFAS within five years,
    • Require the EPA to place discharge limits on industrial releases of PFAS and provide $200 million annually for wastewater treatment,
    • Prohibit unsafe incineration of PFAS wastes.
  • Given its passage in the House last Congress, the bill will likely see action in the coming weeks.

U.S. DOT RAISE Grant Funding Available

  • On April 14, the U.S. Dept. of Transportation issued a notice of funding opportunity for the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) Grant program;
  • RAISE, formally known as the BUILD grant program, is a competitive grant program for surface transportation projects that will have a ‘significant’ local or regional impact;
  • Applications are due by 5:00 pm ET on July 12, 2021, and for more information and application requirements, please click here.

U.S. EPA Announces New Round of WIFIA Loan Recipients

  • Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced $300 million in financing provided to local governments through the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program;
  • Through WIFIA, EPA provides loans to state and local governments for water and wastewater infrastructure projects, drought prevention/mitigation, water reuse, and more;
  • This round of financing includes investments in water treatment centers and resiliency of drinking water systems;
  • More information on the latest recipients can be found here, and more information on the overall WIFIA program can be found here.

FEMA Continues Full Coverage of Safe Opening and Operation Costs

  • Last week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released a reminder about FEMA’s Public Assistance program;
  • The program would cover costs, during the period of January 21, 2021 through September 30, 2021, including:
    • Face coverings and other personal protective equipment,
    • Cleaning and disinfection,
    • COVID-19 diagnostic testing,
    • Screening and temperature scanning,
    • Portable temporary physical barriers for social distancing,
    • Purchasing and storage of personal protective equipment and other supplies based on projected needs.
  • Reimbursement is specifically for COVID-19 emergency and major disaster declarations.

ON THE HORIZON