APWA Washington Report
May 17, 2021

Happy National Public Works Week! Be sure to tweet about your community’s activities @APWAGOVAFFAIRS. We want to hear from you and help promote your great work and community outreach.

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Infrastructure Update

  • Last week was filled with infrastructure discussion and multiple bipartisan meetings held at the White House with President Biden and Vice President Harris and House and Senate Leadership, and Republican Senators;
  • All participants spoke about having a ‘good discussion’ with no final agreement on what to include in an infrastructure package(s);
  • Republican Senators are intending to release a revised proposal this week, which follows a $568 billion, over 5 years framework they introduced April 22 and included proposed funding for roads, bridges, transit, rail, safety, inland waterways and ports, water and wastewater infrastructure, airports, broadband, and water storage;
  • The April 22 framework was an initial counteroffer to President Biden’s $2.25 trillion 'American Jobs Plan' that he proposed on March 31;
  • Bipartisan support is very strong for ‘infrastructure’ investment, and for completing the next surface transportation reauthorization before the current law expires September 30, 2021;
  • However, how to pay for the investments and what will specifically be included in a package(s) is not yet agreed to;
  • This week, two Congressional Committees holding hearings focused on how to fund and finance infrastructure investment, and information about these hearings is included in ON THE HORIZON;
  • In the Senate, it is the Finance Committee that has responsibility for identifying how to pay for an infrastructure package and in the House, it is the Ways and Means Committee;
  • The lead authorizing committees in the House (Transportation & Infrastructure) and the Senate (Senate Environment & Public Works Committee and the Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee) are working on infrastructure legislation with the intention of marking-up around Memorial Day, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has said the House will pass an infrastructure bill by July 4;
  • APWA Government Affairs continues to virtually meet with and share the Association’s ‘Public Policy Priorities’ for the 117th Congress;
  • Please take a few minutes to call your U.S. Senators and Representatives to encourage them to pass a new surface transportation reauthorization bill before September 30, and an infrastructure package this summer;
  • You may do so through the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 which will connect you to the office of your Senators and Representative;
  • Please contact APWA’s Director of Government and Public Affairs Andrea Eales at aeales@apwa.net with any questions about APWA’s Government Affairs activities and priorities.

Resolution Recognizing National Public Works Week Introduced in U.S. House

  • May 14, Representative Angie Craig (D-MN) introduced a resolution recognizing National Public Works Week, with House Public Works and Infrastructure Caucus Co-Chairs Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Representative Dina Titus (D-NV) as original cosponsors;
  • This resolution honors the important work of public works professionals across the country and states that the House of Representatives recognizes May 16-22, 2021 as National Public Works Week;
  • A similar resolution is expected to be introduced soon in the Senate;
  • You can read the full text of the resolution here.

U.S. Department of Treasury Updates COVID-19 Resource Guidance Page

  • Last week, the U.S. Department of Treasury (Treasury) updated their Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds Resources web page which now providesdetails on how state, local, tribal and territorial governments will be able to access funds to assist in efforts to combat COVID-19;
  • $350 billion dollars was provided through the enactment of Public Law (PL) 117-2, the American Rescue Plan (ARP), eligible uses for funding include:
    • Infrastructure investments including water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure– this includes improving access to clean drinking water, supporting vital wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, and expanding access to broadband internet
    • Replacing lost revenue to the extent of the reduction in revenue caused by the pandemic
  • Replacing lost revenue to the extent of the reduction in revenue caused by the pandemic
  • Treasury is expected to provide additional details and continue updates on its web page in the coming weeks.

House Republicans Introduce Wastewater Infrastructure Bill

  • May 13, Republican members of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee introduced the Wastewater Infrastructure Improvement Act;
  • The bill was introduced by Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member David Rouzer (R-NC), along with Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO) and U.S. Rep. Don Young (R-AK);
  • The stated goals of the bill are to invest in wastewater infrastructure, improve the permitting process, and provide small/rural communities with flexibility;
  • Key provisions of the bill include:
    • Reauthorization of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) program at $14 billion over 5 years
    • Reauthorization of Water Pollution Control grants at $1.2 billion over 5 years
    • Reauthorization of Sewer Overflow and Stormwater Reuse Municipal Grants at $1.125 billion over 5 years
    • Extends maximum National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit term from 5 to 10 years
    • Commissions a study on workforce development needs of the wastewater workforce
  • The bill can be seen as a counteroffer to H.R. 1915, the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act, a wastewater infrastructure bill introduced by committee Democrats with some bipartisan support;
  • Ranking Member Graves stated that, “I look forward to working with the Chair and members of the Majority to reach bipartisan agreement on these important issues just as we did last Congress”;
  • For more information, please see the full text of the Wastewater Infrastructure Improvement Act, as well as a section-by-section summary.

President Biden Announces Cybersecurity Executive Order

  • Last week, President Biden issued an Executive Order (EO) designed to strengthen the federal government’s ability to address challenges posed by cyber-attacks;
  • Specifically, the “Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity” includes:
    • Eliminating existing barriers that hinder information sharing between the private sector and federal government
    • Establishing uniform cybersecurity contractual guidelines across federal agencies
    • Creating a joint private and public “Cyber Safety Review Board” tasked with duties including providing recommendations on improving response time on cyber intrusions, mitigation efforts, assessing vulnerabilities, and evaluating agency responses to cyber breaches
    • Upgrading the federal government’s ability to investigate and limit the damage incurred from cyber intrusions
  • This EO, while applying to the federal government, does include recommendations that can be adopted by other levels of government and the private sector.

U.S. EPA Rescinds Rule Restricting Use of Guidance Documents

  • May 12, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a final rule that rescinded a rule previously issued on October 18, 2020 regarding guidance documents;
  • Guidance documents are non-binding documents issued by EPA and other federal agencies with the goal of clarifying existing regulations;
  • The October 18 rulemaking established requirements and procedures for issuing certain guidance documents, including a requirement to seek public comment and respond to petitions for modification or withdrawal of guidance;
  • With this recission, EPA will no longer be required to seek comment on significant guidance documents and will return to previously established procedures for issuing guidance;
  • This rule will become effective upon being published in the Federal Register, which is scheduled for May 18;
  • For more information, please see the rule’s pre-publication notice and EPA’s announcement.

U.S. EPA Releases Grant Funding for Technical Assistance to Small Water Systems

  • May 12, EPA released over $17 million in grant funding aimed at providing training and technical assistance to small drinking water and wastewater systems;
  • This funding will be distributed to the Rural Community Assistance Partnership, the National Rural Water Association, and the University of New Mexico, which will then provide assistance to water systems;
  • Goals of the program include maintaining compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act and improving water quality;
  • More information can be found in EPA’s announcement.