June 28, 2021

 

**Please note that due to the upcoming July 4th Independence Day holiday, the next edition of the APWA Washington Report will be sent on July 12, 2021. APWA Government Affairs wishes you and yours a safe and enjoyable holiday.

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LATEST NEWS
 

Surface Transportation Reauthorization & Infrastructure Update

  • The Senate is not in session this week, though the House is, and on the schedule is the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation INVEST in America Act (H.R. 3684);
  • The INVEST Act was passed by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on June 9, and is a surface transportation reauthorization bill calling for $547 billion in federal spending over 5-years breaking down as:
    • $343 billion for roads, bridges, and safety needs
    • $4 billion for electric vehicle infrastructure
    • $8.3 billion to reduce carbon pollution
    • $6.2 billion for mitigation and resiliency improvement efforts
    • $109 billion for transit
    • $50 million a year for investment in rural communities
    • $95 billion for passenger rail
  • The House is also expected to consider water & wastewater infrastructure legislation this week, with a wastewater infrastructure bill (H.R. 1915), a drinking water infrastructure bill (H.R. 3291), and a low-income water customer assistance bill (H.R. 3293) being combined into a single package and added to the INVEST Act for a vote by the full House;
  • These bills would represent a significant increase in water and wastewater funding, as well as regulatory changes – details on H.R. 1915 can be found here, and details on H.R. 3291 and H.R. 3293 can be found in the item below, “House E&C Committee Advances Drinking Water Infrastructure Bills”;
  • Late last week President Biden and a bipartisan group of 21 U.S. Senators (10 Democrats, 11 Republicans) announced agreement on a framework for a $1.2 trillion over 8 years infrastructure bill to include:
    • $579 billion in new funding for roads, bridges and major projects ($110 billion), public transit ($48.5 billion), rail ($66 billion), safety programs ($11 billion), waterways and ports ($16.3 billion), broadband ($65 billion), electric vehicle infrastructure ($7.5 billion), airports ($25 billion), and more;
    • Specific to water resiliency, provisions of the agreement include:
      • $55 billion for water & wastewater infrastructure
        • Includes funding to eliminate lead service lines & pipes
      • $21 billion for environmental remediation
      • $5 billion for Western Water Storage
    • Specific to emergency management, provisions proposed reportedly include:
      • Expanding the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Emergency Relief Program to include aid after wildfires;
      • Increase resilience to natural disasters and authorize funds for a pilot program for pre-disaster highway hazard mitigation;
      • $450 million for grade crossing separation grants in fiscal year (FY) 2022, increasing to $550 million in FY 2026;
      • The bill would reauthorize the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s hazardous material safety programs for FY 2022 through FY 2026 at $363 million;
      • Reauthorizing spending from the Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness Fund for the same period
    • The proposed funding options to support the framework proposal include:
      • Leveraging private sector investment by incentivizing use of public private partnerships, expanding the use of Private Activity Bonds, asset recycling, and creating direct-pay municipal bonds
      • Repurpose unused COVID-19 unemployment funds and unallocated relief funds for infrastructure purposes
      • Increased tax enforcement
      • Allow states to sell or purchase toll credits
      • Profits from 5G Spectrum auction
      • Extend customs user fees
      • Extend the mandatory sequester
      • Oil sales from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve
      • Reinstate Superfund fees for chemicals
  • President Biden is calling for a two-track plan for consideration in Congress of the bipartisan framework as translated into forthcoming legislation, and a reconciliation package to address ‘family infrastructure’ priorities outlined in his American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan introduced earlier this year;
  • Reconciliation allows for a simple majority vote in the U.S. Senate and would make it filibuster proof, though a new budget resolution to establish the reconciliation path needs to be adopted by both chambers;
  • It is positive news that bipartisan discussions between the President and members of Congress are producing results and that both chambers are focused on surface transportation reauthorization and infrastructure more broadly, though challenges remain as to how the discussions will translate into legislation that will become law; 
  • Democrats control the U.S. House by a very slim margin (220 to 211) and a small number of moderate Democrats are saying they will oppose an expected massive $6 trillion budget resolution over concerns about the nation’s debt, and Progressives in both chambers have declared they cannot support a ‘traditional infrastructure’ package without their demands on addressing climate concerns and ‘family infrastructure’ being fully included;
  • The Senate is split 50-50 with Vice President Harris giving Democrats control of the Chamber as a tie-breaking vote;
  • Other legislation considered by Senate Committees expected to have some provisions included in the bipartisan infrastructure framework legislation as it formally becomes legislative text are:
    • S. 1931,the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021 unanimously passed by the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee on May 26 and proposing $303.5 billion over 5 years to Dept. of Transportation (DOT) programs for highways, roads, and bridges and a 34% increase over the FAST Act
    • S. 2016, the Surface Transportation Investment Act passed by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee proposes $78 billion over 5-years and addresses freight, rail, and transportation safety programs
  • APWA Government Affairs continues bipartisan outreach to Congressional offices about the Association’s 117th Congress Public Policy Priorities, which are Surface Transportation Reauthorization, Water Resiliency, and Emergency Management;
  • 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;
  • You may do so through the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 which will connect you to the U.S. Senate and House offices;
  • 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.

House E&C Committee Advances Drinking Water Infrastructure Bills

  • June 23, the House Energy & Commerce Committee held a markup hearingand advanced three bills related to drinking water issues:
  • H.R. 3291, which passed with Democratic support along party lines 32-24, reauthorizes drinking water infrastructure programs while including policy changes to regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA);
  • Key provisions for public works include:
    • Reauthorizes Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) authorization at $52.94 billion over FY 2022-2031
    • $4.5 billion per year from FY 2022-2031 to replace lead service lines
    • Reauthorizes and increases funding for Drinking Water System Resilience Funding Program
    • Establishes a grant program to aid water utilities to pay costs of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) treatment
    • Directs the EPA Administrator to establish primary drinking water regulation for PFAS and other emerging contaminants
    • Repeals cost-benefit analysis requirements for Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) contaminant standards
    • Eliminates small system variances authorized under 1415(e) of SDWA, which allow for the establishment of alternate drinking water standards for small systems
  • Committee Republicans proposed amendments to repeal the cost-benefit analysis and small system variances, voicing concerns about increased costs to water systems, but these were voted down;
  • While APWA supports efforts to address the nation’s drinking water needs through increased funding and financing, we will continue to voice concern around provisions limiting EPA’s regulatory flexibility;
  • H.R. 3293, which also passed along party lines in a 32-24 vote, would authorize $4 billion to establish a permanent rate assistance program for low-income customers;
  • H.R. 2467, which passed 33-20, would establish new regulations around PFAS from manufacture to disposal;
  • Key provisions for public works include:
    • Requires EPA to designate PFAS as a hazardous substance under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as the ‘Superfund’
    • Requires EPA to establish a drinking water standard for PFAS substances
      • A five-year grace period would be provided during which no financial penalties would be assessed
    • Authorizes $550 million over five years to assist drinking water systems with PFAS treatment
    • Requires industrial facilities to notify water treatment operators before discharging wastewater containing PFAS
    • Requires EPA to establish effluent limitations and pretreatment standards for PFAS in wastewater
    • Authorizes $1 billion for a new grant program to assist publicly owned water treatment facilities with implementing the pretreatment standard
  • As noted in the above item, “Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Infrastructure Update”, H.R. 3291 and 3293 have been combined with wastewater legislation (H.R. 1915);
  • This package has been attached to surface transportation reauthorization legislation and is expected to receive a vote by the full House this week;
  • Timing of a floor vote on H.R. 2467 is currently unknown;
  • Please contact APWA Government Affairs Manager Michael Altman at (202) 218-6727 or maltman@apwa.net with any questions regarding this legislation or APWA’s advocacy.

U.S. Senate Designates National Cybersecurity Education Week

  • Last week the Senate passed Senate Resolution (S. Res) 279 designating June 21 through June 25 as “National Cybersecurity Education Week”;
  • S. Res 279 would committhe Senate to increasing awareness about cyber education while also taking legislative actions to address cybersecurity education expansion and address the cybersecurity workforce shortage.

U.S. EPA Announces American Rescue Plan Funding for Environmental Justice

  • June 25, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it will provide $50 million for environmental justice initiatives;
  • This funding was allocated to EPA under the American Rescue Plan, and will seek to address environmental and public health issues in underserved communities;
  • Specific areas of funding distribution of interest to public works include:
    • $4.7 million for drinking water and compliance monitoring in rural and tribal area
    • $2.15 million in funding for technical assistance to build community capacity to address air and water issues
  • For more information, please see EPA’s official announcement.
 

ON THE HORIZON