July 26, 2021

 

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LATEST NEWS

Infrastructure and FY 2022 Budget Update

  • This week a bipartisan group of 22 Senators who agreed on an infrastructure framework with President Biden weeks ago, are reportedly hoping to finalize legislative text;
  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is pushing the chamber to pass both an infrastructure bill, and a fiscal year (FY) 2022 $3.5 trillion over 10 years, budget resolution prior to the scheduled district work period set to begin August 9;
  • The Senate bipartisan framework for transportation infrastructure proposes a federal investment of $579 billion over 5 years;
  • The legislative text for the Senate infrastructure bill is expected to come primarily from two bills passed out of committees, and these are the bipartisan Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021 (S. 1931) passed out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in late May, and also bipartisan, the Surface Transportation Investment Act S. 2016), passed by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in June;
  • S. 1931 proposes $303.5 billion over 5 years to Dept. of Transportation programs for highways, roads, and bridges and is a 34% increase over the current law;
  • S. 2016 proposes $78 billion over 5-years and addresses freight, rail, and transportation safety programs;
  • The Senate Banking Committee has jurisdiction over transit programs but has not yet considered a bill for this portion of surface transportation reauthorization;
  • Transit funding and its percentage related to a formula for spending from the Highway Trust Fund remains an area of disagreement between Democrats and Republicans;
  • Other differences among Senate negotiators remain over allocating funding for broadband, re-purposing unspent Covid-19 relief money, the creation of an infrastructure bank, and Davis-Bacon Act requirements that federally funded projects pay wages commensurate with local prevailing wage levels;
  • Leader Schumer wants the infrastructure package to be on a dual track with consideration of the FY 2022 budget resolution specifically addressing Democrat priorities for climate, education, health care, Medicare, immigration, and taxes—the ‘human infrastructure’ as declared in President Biden’s American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan introduced earlier this year;
  • Support for the budget resolution is intended to be done by reconciliation so only a simple majority vote is needed for passage;
  • In the House, the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation INVEST in America Act (H.R. 3684) was passed July 1;
  • The INVEST in America Act calls for $547 billion in federal spending for transportation over 5-years;
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has said the House will not vote on an infrastructure package without the Senate first passing the FY 2022 budget resolution;
  • The House is scheduled to begin its district work period on August 2;
  • Democrats hold a very narrow majority in the U.S. House (220 to 211) and the Senate is evenly split 50-50, with Vice President Harris providing Democrats control as the tie-breaking vote when needed;
  • Additional hurdles for the infrastructure bill and the budget resolution include some progressive Democrats stating that if the budget resolution and the infrastructure package are not considered and passed together, they will not support an infrastructure bill, along with calling for more environment related funding to be added;
  • Some Republicans are saying they will not support tying a partisan budget resolution passed through reconciliation with an infrastructure package;
  • Following the Congressional district work period which will end just after Labor Day, Congress will be faced with the end of the fiscal year which is September 30, 2021 and passing appropriations measures to keep the federal government fully funded;
  • It is highly likely a continuing resolution will be necessary to allow for more time to pass FY 2022 funding bills;
  • Further, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is telling Congress the nation’s debt ceiling will again be in effect on August 1 and if it is not raised or suspended, a default may occur on October 1;
  • 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 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 of Representatives Passes Sweeping PFAS Legislation

  • July 21, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2467, the PFAS Action Act, on a 241-183 vote;
  • The bill, introduced by Representative Debbie Dingell (D-MI), passed with mostly Democrat support;
  • The legislation would take a wide range of actions to combat per-fluoroalkyl and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that have become an emerging contaminant in the nation’s drinking water;
  • These chemicals are used in the manufacturing of nonstick cookware, firefighting foam, and other products;
  • Provisions of the bill include:
    • Barring the manufacturing of new products containing PFAS
    • Directing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish drinking water standards for PFAS within two years
      • Penalties for violations of the standard would not be permitted for five years from the Rule’s enactment
    • Require EPA to issue health advisories for any unregulated PFAS chemicals
    • Direct EPA to establish within four years effluent limitations and pretreatment standards for per-fluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and per-fluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS)
    • Designate PFOA and PFAS as hazardous substances under the Superfund program
    • Prohibit release of PFAS into water systems unless wastewater facilities are notified
    • Authorize $1 billion over five years for grants to support PFAS pre-treatment standards at wastewater facilities
    • Authorize $550 million over five years for grants to install new treatment technologies
  • The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration, where prospects are uncertain;
  • Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) stated he has been in discussion with Representative Dingell and EPW Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and “we are going to continue our conversation on where we go from here”;
  • If you have any questions or comments regarding this legislation, please reach out to APWA Government Affairs Manager Michael Altman at maltman@apwa.net or (202) 218-6727.

White House Releases Environmental Justice Memorandum

  • July 20, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released a memorandum to heads of departments and agencies providing implementation guidance for President Biden’s “Justice40” initiative;
  • Justice40 seeks to ensure 40% of certain federal investments flow towards disadvantaged communities;
  • Applicable federal investments include water and wastewater infrastructure, clean transportation, pollution remediation, and related workforce development programs;
  • The memorandum provides a methodology for calculating the percentage of federal benefits directed to disadvantaged communities and mandates certain reporting requirements;
  • Agencies with potentially covered investments include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Labor, the Department of Transportation, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency;
  • For more information, please see the full memorandum.

House Appropriations Committee Advances FY 2022 DHS bill

  • The House Committee on Appropriations advanced on a party line vote, H.R. 4431, the Making appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security for the fiscal year (FY) ending September 30, 2022, which provides $52.8 billion in discretionary funds, just about $934 million over last year’s funding, agencies of note include:
    • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding would be set at $23.8 billion, an increase of $2.1 billion from FY 2021, this would include just over $3.5 billion for FEMA grants and training, a bump up of over $230 million from FY 2021
    • The bill also includes language requiring FEMA to cover the costs of generators used in presidentially declared disaster areas when power is temporarily shut down during extreme weather events
    • The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) would receive funding in the amount of $2.4 billion, up approximately $400 million from FY 2021, language was added to the bill to establish a Cyber Response and Recovery Fund within CISA that would be tasked with assisting state, local, territorial, tribal governments, and private entities in responding to major cyber incidents
    • The Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) allocation would be $18.8 billion which is an increase of $1.66 billion from FY 2021
  • No date has been announced for a full House vote, the U.S. Senate may not begin consideration of its bill until after the August recess.

FEMA Announces New Guide to help Build Private-Public Partnerships

  • Last week, FEMA released a new guide titled “Building Private-Public Partnerships;
  • The guide includes best practices for jurisdictions to establish and maintain private-public partnerships (P3) to assist with mitigation, response & recovery planning and preparedness, and to enhance community resilience;
  • To assist in outreach efforts, FEMA is planning two, sixty minute webinars:
    • The first will take place on Monday, July 26;
    • The second will be held on Thursday, July 29.

EPA Announces New Water Quality Monitoring Web Tool

  • July 21, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a new tool for federal, state, tribal, and local partners to monitor water quality;
  • CyANWeb utilizes satellite data to alert users to the growth of cyanobacteria, a harmful algal bloom in water;
  • The tool is intended to make this data more accessible to water quality managers as well as the general public;
  • More information on this tool can be found in EPA’s announcement.

EPA and Forest Service Release Wildfire Smoke Resources

  • July 19, EPA and the U.S. Forest Service announced updates to the AirNow Fire and Smoke Map;
  • The Fire and Smoke Map was launched in 2020 as a pilot to provide information to the public on fire locations, smoke plumes, and air quality;
  • Updates include a new dashboard to give users quicker access to information;
  • More information on this tool can be found in EPA’s announcement.

On the Horizon