APWA Washington Report (August 7, 2017)

August 7, 2017                                             Share:

*Both the House and Senate are back in their states and districts for the August Congressional recess and will return to D.C. following the Labor Day holiday. The next issue of the APWA Washington Report will be sent out on September 11.

**August is a perfect time to reach out to your U.S. Representative and Senators to meet with them about public works priorities.

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LATEST NEWS

Senate Takes Action Before Departing D.C.

  • Prior to recessing for the August Congressional recess, the Senate confirmed 69 of President Trump’s nominees for federal agency positions, including some at the Departments of Energy and Interior;
  • The Senate Appropriations committee has passed 6 of the 12 fiscal year (FY) 2018 annual funding bills, including the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development spending measure; however, no FY 2018 appropriations bills have been voted on by the full Senate;
  • The Senate also moved legislation pertaining to telecommunications, including S. 19-Making Opportunities for Broadband Investment and Limiting Excessive and Needless Obstacles to Wireless Act– introduced by Senator John Thune (R-SD), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee;
  • If enacted, S. 19 would speed the transfer of government airwaves to the private sector and foster new broadband infrastructure, click here to view text of the bill;
  • The Senate and House have entered what are called ‘pro-forma’ sessions which means both chambers will be in session every three business days throughout the recess;
  • Of note, this legislative tactic prohibits the President from making appointments or replacing officials without Senate confirmation during the Congressional recess;
  • Both chambers are scheduled to return to Washington on September 5;
  • There are only 16 scheduled legislative days before the end of the fiscal year, which is September 30, for both chambers to address unfinished business;
  • Upon return, the Senate plans to take up U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Interior Department legislation for mark-up;
  • Both Chambers hope to address federal spending, flood insurance programs, as well as a plan to avoid defaulting on federal debt.

EPA Seeking Comments on Repeal of WOTUS Rule

  • The EPA is seeking public comments on its proposal to repeal the Obama Administration’s ‘Waters of the United States Rule’;
  • In late June, EPA released its proposal to repeal the rule, which extended federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act to small bodies of water like headwaters, wetlands and some ponds;
  • The 2015 rule never took effect because it was put on hold by a federal court;
  • After the EPA gathers and analyzes the comments, it can make any necessary changes and then make the rollback final;
  • APWA provided comments on the initial rulemaking, which may be viewed here;
  • A primer on the effects of the rule on public works may be found on the APWA website;
  • APWA is seeking input from members on potential comments to this proposal;
  • The deadline for members to submit input to APWA is August 14, 2017;
  • Please submit comments to Sean Garcia, APWA Government Affairs Manager, at sgarcia@apwa.net;
  • You may read the entire Federal Register notice on the agency website.

APWA Participates in the National Homeland Security Consortium Meeting

  • APWA member Mark Ray of Crystal, MN, along with Government Affairs Director Andrea Eales, and Government Affairs Manager Marty Williams, participated in a day-long session held in Washington, D.C. focusing on emergency management and response priorities;
  • The National Homeland Security Consortium (NHSC) is comprised of 22 public and private sector national organizations, including APWA, and meets twice a year;
  • The primary goal for the NHSC is to find consensus towards increased coordination of the various disciplines represented within the Consortium, and to promote common priorities in protecting the nation;
  • A highlight of the meeting included comments from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long outlining his goals on improving and streamlining FEMA operations, notably allowing for increased input from state and local governments on how to better address emergency situations specific to their regions;
  • Along with NHSC members, other attendees included staff from the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Management and Budget, and Congressional staff.

FCC Addresses Rural Broadband

  • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unanimously approved a series of proposals aimed at spurring more investment and federal support for rural broadband expansion;
  • The federal universal service high-cost program (also known as the Connect America Fund) is designed to ensure consumers in rural, insular, and high-cost areas have access to modern communications networks capable of providing voice and broadband service, both fixed and mobile, at rates reasonably comparable to those in urban areas;
  • Click here to read a summary of the proposal.

ON THE HORIZON

Cyber Executive Order Deadline Approaches

  • August 9 is the most immediate deadline listed in the Presidential Executive Order 13800-Strengthening the Cybersecurity of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure;

This will mark 90 days after the order’s release on May 11, and by August 9, agencies must provide a risk management report to the Department of Homeland Security Secretary and to Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, click here to view a copy of the Executive Order.