July 12, 2021

 

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LATEST NEWS
 

Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Infrastructure Update

  • The Senate returns to session this week, the House is not in session though will continue committee work this week and both chambers will be in session the weeks of July 19 and July 26;
  • At this time, the House is scheduled to begin its August district work period August 2 until after Labor Day, and the Senate is scheduled to begin its district work period August 9;
  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is letting Senators know that a shortened August district work period is possible due to work needed on multiple pieces of legislation related to infrastructure, policing, a fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget resolution and appropriations for FY 2022;
  • Prior to the July 4 Congressional district work period, the full House passed on a partisan vote of 221 to 201 with 2 Republicans crossing the aisle to support the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation INVEST in America Act (H.R. 3684);
  • The INVEST Act calls 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
  • Additionally, prior to July 4, President Biden and a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators announced agreement on a framework for a $973 billion mostly surface transportation 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 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 2022, increasing to $550 million in fiscal year 2026;
      • The bill would reauthorize the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s hazardous material safety programs for fiscal year 2022 through fiscal year 2026 at $363 million over the five years;
      • 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
  • Legislative text for the bipartisan agreement has yet to be released and it is still not clear whether there will be a two-track approach for consideration in Congress of the bipartisan infrastructure framework, and a reconciliation package considered separately to address ‘family infrastructure’ priorities outlined in the President’s American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan introduced earlier this year;
  • The level of support in both chambers and from both sides of the aisle is unclear, and a very narrow majority for Democrats in the House (220 to 211), and an evenly split Senate (50-50) with Vice President Harris as the tie-breaking vote for Democrats’ control of the chamber, provides for a challenging legislative path;
  • 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 & 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;
  • On July 1, APWA issued a press release calling for bipartisanship and for Congress to pass a new surface transportation bill into law before September 30, 2021;
  • Please take a few minutes to call your U.S. Senators and Representatives to encourage them to pass a new surface transportation reauthorization bill, which you may do 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.

Senate Expected to Vote on the Nomination of Jen Easterly as CISA Director

  • The U.S. Senate is expected to act on the nomination of Jen Easterly as Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Director this week;
  • CISA, an agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has responsibilities that include:
    • Building the national capacity to defend against cyber-attacks and work with the federal government to provide cybersecurity tools, incident response services and assessment capabilities to safeguard the ‘.gov’ networks that support the essential operations of partner departments and agencies
    • Enhancing public safety interoperable communications at all levels of government to help partners across the country develop their emergency communications capabilities
  • She previously served on the National Security Council (NSC) as a special assistant to the President and senior director for counterterrorism from 2013-16;
  • Prior to working at NSC, she worked at the National Security Agency (NSA) as a cyber advisor before becoming rising to the role of deputy director for counterterrorism at the NSA.

House Appropriations Committee Advances FY22 Interior-Environment Bill

  • July 1, the House Appropriations Committee passed its Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) appropriations bill for Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies (Interior-Environment);
  • This legislation provides funding for the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other agencies from October 1, 2021 until September 30, 2022;
  • The bill would provide, or calls for a total of $11.3 billion for EPA, an increase of $2.1 billion above the FY21 enacted level. Funding for programs relevant to public works includes:
    • $3.23 billion for Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, $464 million above the FY21 enacted level
    • $326.6 million for grants for drinking water contaminants and wastewater treatment for lead, nitrates, and other hazards, an increase of $117.5 million above the FY21 enacted level
    • $60 million for Sewer Overflow and Stormwater Control Grants, an increase of $20 million above the FY21 enacted level
    • $5 million for the Water Workforce Infrastructure grants program, an increase of $2 million from the FY21 enacted level
    • $80 million for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program, including $5 million for the more recently created State infrastructure financing authority WIFIA (SWIFIA) program and $8 million for administrative expenses, a total increase of $15 million above the FY21 enacted level
    • $61.8 million in new funding to help establish drinking water and cleanup standards for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)
    • $248 million for Environmental Justice activities, an increase of $235 million above the FY 21 enacted level
  • The bill calls for a total of $15.6 billion in funding for DOI, an increase of $2.3 billion above the FY 21 enacted level - funding for programs relevant to public works includes:
    • $1.6 billion for the U.S. Geological Survey, an increase of $327 million above the FY21 enacted level
    • $5.66 for Wildland Fire Management, an increase of $385.82 million above the FY21 enacted level
  • Timing for a floor vote by the full House of Representatives is not yet known;
  • The Senate Appropriations Committee has yet to act on an Interior-Environment appropriations bill.

FHWA Announces Funding Opportunity for Advanced Transportation Technologies

  • The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recently published a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the FY 2021 Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment (ATCMTD) program;
  • The NOFO can be accessed here, and the application due date is August 23, 2021;
  • A webinar covering details of the program and the NOFO is being scheduled and will be updated in the Grants.gov listing;
  • Eligible applicants include state and local governments, or political subdivisions thereof, representing populations of 200,000 or more, as well as multi-jurisdictional groups of eligible applicants;
  • Should you have questions, please contact the ATCMTD team at ATCMTD@dot.gov.

CISA Releases Analysis of Risk and Vulnerability Assessment (RVA) in 2020

  • Last week CISA released their Analysis of Risk and Vulnerability Assessment (RVA) for 2020;
  • The RVA report examines a sample attack path that a cyber threat actor could take to compromise an organization.
  • The hypothetical route a hacker might take includes six successive tactics, or "steps":
    • Initial Access, Command and Control, Lateral Movement, Privilege Escalation, Collection, and Exfiltration;
  • The report concluded that a majority of the successful attacks proved to be methods frequently employed by threat actors such as phishing, and determined that the techniques used by hackers are constantly evolving.

President Biden Signs Executive Order on Licensure Reform

  • July 9, President Biden signed an executive order with the stated goal of promoting competition in the American economy;
  • Among many other provisions, the executive order “encourages the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to ban unnecessary occupational licensing restrictions that impede economic mobility”;
  • Changes to licensure mobility could impact a range of public works careers subject to occupational licensing, and APWA Government Affairs has educated policymakers on this issue through our Policymaker Primer on Workforce Development;
  • The timeline and scope for potential changes to licensing and the professions impacted are currently unknown;
  • For more information on the executive order, please see the White House’s official fact sheet.


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