August 9, 2021

 

**At this time, the next APWA Washington Report is scheduled to be sent out on September 13, 2021. Please continue to follow APWA Government Affairs on Twitter @APWAGOVAFFAIRS to follow advocacy related news.

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LATEST NEWS
 

Update on Senate's Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

  • On Sunday night the U.S. Senate voted to end debate on its bipartisan infrastructure bill, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act;
  • The bottom line is the required hours of debate will expire in the wee hours of Tuesday morning and then, later on Tuesday, the Senate is expected to easily pass the bill;
  • APWA and 81 other state and local government advocacy groups came out in support of the IIJA;
  • Included in the IIJA are several APWA public policy priorities the Association has been actively advocating on, and these include:
TRANSPORTATION

  • Funding
    • Reauthorizing the primary federal aid highway programs set to expire September 30, 2021, and proposes an overall increase of $273.2 billion in federal investment over 5 years;
    • $50 million over 5 years from highway research and development funds for a new pilot program to explore the use of a national motor vehicle per-mile user fee to bolster the Highway Trust Fund;
    • $75 million over five years to reauthorize and expand a separate program offering grants to states for pilot projects to test road usage fees and other alternative revenue mechanisms
  • Streamlining
    • Codifying elements of the Trump administration’s “one federal decision” policy to require agencies to coordinate reviews and authorization decisions for major infrastructure projects and set a goal for completing environmental reviews within two years;
    • The lead agency would develop an environmental review schedule with the project sponsor and be consistent with an agency average of not more than two years for major projects, there would be conditions specified under which the schedule could be modified;
    • Authorization decisions for construction of a major project would have to be completed within 90 days of the issuance of a record of decision for the project, though the lead agency could extend the deadline in some cases;
    • The Dept. of Transportation (DOT) would have to establish a performance accountability system to track each major project;
    • DOT would also have to provide other relevant agencies with a list of categorical exclusions under the National Environmental Policy Act that are applicable to highway projects and that would accelerate project delivery.
  • Safety
    • $11 billion dedicated to road safety.
  • Other provisions of interest for public works and transportation;
    • $4.8 billion for renamed Nationally Significant Multimodal Freight and Highway Projects, also referred to as the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant program;
    • Changes to the INFRA grant program to include directing at least 15% of funds towards smaller projects;
    • $3.27 billion over 5 years from the Highway Trust Fund and $3.27 billion over 5 years from the Treasury general fund for new grants to repair and replace bridges;
    • $2 billion for the Rural Surface Transportation Grant Program;
    • $1.25 billion for the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program;
    • Extend eligibility for TIFIA loans to airport projects and economic development projects related to rail stations;
    • $7.3 billion for a new Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-saving Transportation (PROTECT) program intended to make infrastructure more resilient to storms and natural disasters;
    • $500 million over 5 years to establish Transportation Resilience and Adaptation Centers of Excellence to study how to make transportation more resilient to extreme weather and climate change;
    • Expanded eligibility from several federal-aid highway programs to include transportation resilience and extreme weather mitigation projects;
    • Require the Federal Highway Administration develop a tool to help transportation authorities’ identify and respond to cyber incidents;
    • Modify eligibility rules for Surface Transportation Block Grants to include wildlife crossing structures, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and intelligent transportation technologies;
    • Reauthorize the State Infrastructure Bank Program through FY 2026;
    • Distribution of funds to states will go through the Highway Trust Fund using the standing distribution formula.
WATER RESILIENCY
  • Enhance
    • $55 billion dollars overall towards water and wastewater infrastructure;
    • Reauthorization of Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) at $14.7 billion each over 5 years;
    • $15 billion for removal and replacement of lead service lines, distributed through the DWSRF:
      • 49 percent of this funding must be distributed in the form of grants or forgivable loans;
    • $5 billion to the Assistance for Small and Disadvantaged Communities Drinking Water grant program to deal with emerging contaminants;
    • $4 billion to address emerging contaminants with a focus on perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), distributed through the DWSRF:
      • 100 percent of this funding must be distributed in the form of grants or forgivable loans;
    • Reauthorization of Water Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act (WIFIA) loans at $50 million per year over 5 years;
    • Reauthorization of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) water workforce development program at $5 million per year over 5 years, and establishment of public works agencies as an eligible recipient of this funding:
      • APWA directly advocated for the latter provision to help strengthen the public works water workforce;
    • Reauthorization of Sewer Overflow and Stormwater Reuse Municipal Grants program at $280 million per year over 5 years;
    • Reauthorization of the Reducing Lead in Drinking Water grant program at $100 million per year over 5 years;
    • Reauthorization of the Lead Testing in School and Child Care Program Drinking Water grant program at $200 million over 5 years;
    • Authorization of a new lead mapping pilot program.
  • Protect
    • Authorization of a new Clean Water Infrastructure Resiliency and Sustainability grant program to increase water utility resilience, authorized at $25 million per year over 5 years;
    • The bill directs the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to provide additional cybersecurity support for public water systems:
      • This includes developing a prioritization framework to identify specific water systems that are under elevated risk of cyber-attack;
      • It also directs CISA to develop a Technical Cybersecurity Support Plan that would allow the agency to provide voluntary technical support on cybersecurity for identified water systems.
  • Science
    • Authorization of a new grant program for water systems to install advanced drinking water technologies at $10 million per year over 5 years;
    • Authorization of a new program to establish stormwater control infrastructure research centers and fund new and emerging stormwater technologies at $10 million per year over 5 years;
  • Other provisions of interest for public works and water resiliency, environmental issues, and solid waste management:
    • $8.3 billion for western water infrastructure through the Bureau of Reclamation:
      • $3.2 billion for aging infrastructure rehabilitation;
      • $1.2 billion for water storage/conveyance;
      • $1 billion for rural water projects;
      • $1 billion for water recycling and reuse;
      • $500 million for dam safety;
    • $7 billion for EPA’s Hazardous Substance Superfund;
    • $75 million over five years for a new grant program to improve recycling programs through public outreach;
    • $15 million for EPA to establish best practices for battery recycling and labeling guidelines.
EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT
  • Mitigation
    • The bill would authorize $3.37 billion from FY 2022 through FY 2026 for wildfire risk reduction;
    • The Departments of Interior, Agriculture, and Homeland Security would be required to establish a commission to study and make recommendations regarding federal policies to prevent, mitigate, suppress wildfires and to rehabilitate land devastated by wildfires;
  • Cyber Threats & Telecommunications
    • The measure allows the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary could make a declaration in the event of a significant cyber incident, an imminent incident, or when available resources are insufficient for an effective response:
      • After making a declaration, DHS would coordinate a response effort with federal agencies, law enforcement, and public and private entities;
      • A declaration would terminate at the discretion of the department or 120 days after the declaration is made, however the secretary could renew the declaration;
      • This authority would expire 7 years after the bill’s enactment.
    • The measure would authorize $1 billion from FY 2022 through FY 2025 to create a grant program to help states, tribal or multistate governments address cybersecurity threats:
      • Eligible entities would be required to develop a cybersecurity plan that would outline details on existing strategies to mitigate risks and enhance information system resilience;
      • Grant funding would be used to implement or revise plans, pay administrative expenses, or assist with other activities to address imminent cybersecurity threats.
  • Other provisions of interest for public works and emergency management:
    • The legislation would provide the following funding amounts for programs run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA):
      • $3.5 billion for the National Flood Insurance Fund for flood mitigation assistance;
      • $2.23 billion for federal assistance programs, including $1 billion for grants to help state, local, tribal, and territorial governments upgrade their cybersecurity and critical infrastructure;
      • $1 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) to be used for pre-disaster hazard mitigation assistance under FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant program.

         
  • Once the Senate completes its business on the IIJA, it will then turn to the FY 2022 $3.5 trillion over 10 years, budget resolution;
  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is seeking to pass the budget resolution, whose text is now available, under budget reconciliation instructions which is a process that only requires a simple majority for passage;
  • At this time, no Senate Republicans are expected to support the budget resolution, and it is still uncertain that all 50 Senate Democrats will support it in its reported current outline;
  • The House is not in session and will not return for legislative business until after Labor Day;
  • 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;
  • On July 1, the U.S House passed its infrastructure bill, 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;
  • Specific details of the INVEST Act were provided in prior editions of the APWA Washington Report;
  • Democrats hold a very narrow majority in the U.S. House (220 to 212 with 3 vacancies) and the Senate is evenly split 50-50, with Vice President Harris providing Democrats control as the tie-breaking vote when needed;
  • Following the August Congressional district work period, 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 recently informed Congress the nation’s debt ceiling is again in effect as of 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.

APWA Releases New Policymaker Primers on Climate & Recycling

  • Last week, APWA Government Affairs officially released two new Policymaker Primers, titled Public Works & Climate and Public Works & Recycling;
  • Policymaker Primers are intended to provide detailed information on the roles and responsibilities of public works that are not directly spoken to in our current Public Policy Priorities for the 117th Congress, which are: Surface Transportation Reauthorization, Water Resiliency, and Emergency Management;
  • APWA Government Affairs has also previously released Policymaker Primers on Public Right of Way and Broadband Deployment, and Workforce Development
  • Public Works & Climate provides detailed information on the role of public works professionals in promoting sustainability, building resilient infrastructure, and serving as first responders during natural disasters;
  • Public Works & Recycling educates policymakers on the key role public works departments play in coordinating recycling strategy, as well as challenges agencies are facing, including processing capability and capture issues;
  • Both of these documents have been shared with key congressional committees, and APWA’s Government Affairs staff utilizes them to educate policymakers on these important issues;
  • The Policymaker Primers, as well as a range of other advocacy resources, are available for member use on APWA’s Government Affairs website.

FEMA Announces $3.5 billion in Disaster Mitigation Grants

  • Last week, President Biden announced that FEMA will be making $3.5 billion dollars available nationally to assist communities in reducing the potential impact caused by disasters;
  • Funds for the grants will be distributed from the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) to states, tribes, and territories for mitigation projects to reduce the impacts of climate change;
  • Communities that declared a natural disaster dating back to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and covered under the 59 major disaster declarations, are eligible to apply;
  • Efforts to reduce risks exacerbated by warming global temperatures that are eligible for funding include:
    • Wildfires, drought, increased flooding, and coastal erosion, and could be used for “nature-based” projects such as flood protection and storm water parks to improve resiliency.

CISA Announces New Cybersecurity Collaborative Effort

  • Last week, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Director Jen Easterly announced the establishment of the “Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative(JCDC);
  • The JCDC was created to serve as the lead for the nation’s cyber defense plans to prevent and reduce the impacts of cyber intrusions;
  • The JCDC will collaborate with public and private sector entities to consolidate and coordinate the execution of crisis action planning;
  • The JCDC will consult with voluntary partners, including state, local, tribal, and territorial governments;
  • The JCDC’s office will be comprised of representatives from the following agencies:
    • The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
    • Department of Justice (DOJ)
    • United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM)
    • The National Security Agency (NSA)
    • The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
    • The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI)
    • Information sharing and analysis organizations and centers (ISAOs/ISACs), as well as owners and operators of critical information systems, and other private entities, as appropriate.
 

ON THE HORIZON