APWA Washington Report – November 27, 2017

November 27, 2017                                     Share:

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LATEST NEWS

Senate Joins House in Passing $1.4 Trillion Tax Code Adjustment Legislation

  • Last week, the Senate voted to adopt H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which included amendments to the House passed measure;
  • The bill, introduced in the House by Ways and Means Chair Kevin Brady (R-TX), was passed by the House last month;
  • The measure now heads to a conference committee (appointed by leaders of each chamber and party) to iron out differences between the Senate and House legislation;
  • Upon reconciliation of the differing bills, the final legislation will then be voted on by both chambers and, if passed, the bill would then head to President Trump;
  • APWA is encouraging members to reach out to their lawmakers encouraging them to protect public works financing in the tax reform legislation – click here to take action through our Legislative Action Center.

Congress Exploring a CR Through December 22

  • With the current Continuing Resolution (CR), or temporary spending measure, set to expire on December 8, 2017, Congress will likely move to pass an additional CR funding the government through December 22, 2017;
  • Congress has yet to send any of the 12 appropriations bills to President Trump;
  • You may view a draft of the yet to be numbered legislation by clicking here.

APWA Issues Letter Urging Congress to Fund Infrastructure

  • In a letter to the leadership of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, APWA urged Congress to fund key infrastructure programs in any year-end FY2018 spending package;
  • APWA is advocating for fully funding authorized levels for the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act and other key programs such as TIGER grants, the Drinking Water & Clean Water State Revolving Funds, and Hazard Mitigation Grants & Pre-Disaster Mitigation;
  • You may read the letter here.

House Republicans Issue Letter on Protecting Municipal Bonds

  • In a letter released last week, 21 House members asked Republican leaders to reconsider measures in tax reform legislation that would pull the tax breaks for advance refunding of municipal bonds;
  • No committee or GOP leadership members signed on to the letter, and only five of the members who signed voted no on the House version of the tax reform package;
  • APWA has been active in lobbying both the House and Senate to drop these provisions, as well as language that would eliminate the use of private activity bonds (PABs) for infrastructure projects;
  • APWA, along with 26 other organizations, issued a letter to House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, asking him to remove language related to advance refunding and PABs;
  • APWA also issued a letter with five other water associations outlining the negative impacts these provisions would have on investment in water infrastructure.

House Moves to Renew Brownfields Program

  • The House voted 409-8 to pass H.R. 3017, the “Brownfields Enhancement and Environmental Redevelopment and Reauthorization Act of 2017”;
  • If enacted, the bill will make the following changes to the Brownfields program, among others:
    • Authorizes the program at $200 million per year for FY 2017 – 2021;
    • Authorizes state response grants at $50 million per year for FY 2017 – 2021;
    • Expands the definition of eligible entities to include certain non-profit organizations;
    • Allows eligible entities to use up to 5% of grant money to cover administrative costs; and
    • Allows EPA to make up to $1.5 million available for small community technical assistance grants;
  • Companion legislation, S. 822, has been introduced in the Senate, but will likely not see action until next year.

Senate Scheduled to Vote to Confirm DHS Secretary This Week

  • The Senate plans to vote on the nomination of Ms. Kirstjen Nielsen to serve as the next Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary as early as this afternoon;
  • If confirmed by the Senate, Ms. Nielsen would then be sworn in as the new Secretary, taking over for Ms. Elaine Duke, the DHS Acting Secretary.

Senate Panel Approves Nominees for CEQ & EPA

  • The Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works voted last week to approve Kathleen White Hartnett to serve as Director of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and Andrew Wheeler to serve as Deputy Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA);
  • Both nominees were approved on 11-10 votes for CEQ & EPA and now need approval from the full Senate;
  • These nominees join Susan Bodine, nominated for EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assistance, and Michael Dourson, nominated to serve as EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, in awaiting full Senate action.

FEMA’s NAC Completes Their Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

  • Beginning November 28 and concluding on November 30, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) 35-member National Advisory Council (NAC) held their annual open meeting;
  • The NAC is tasked with reviewing existing FEMA policies and providing their recommendations to the FEMA Administrator;
  • Of note, several members of the NAC expressed a desire to increase FEMA outreach in soliciting and ultimately receiving emergency management feedback from public works professionals.

NFIP Authorization Set to Expire This Week

  • Without re-authorization from Congress, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will expire on December 8, 2017;
  • It is possible that NFIP could be re-authorized under the proposed CR being discussed;
  • NFIP authorization was originally extended to the end of this week under Public Law No: 115-56 – you may view the law here.

APWA Government Affairs to Attend Infrastructure Brief December 6

  • This Wednesday, APWA Government Affairs team members will be attending a brief on infrastructure hosted by Roll Call Magazine;
  • The event will feature remarks from Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR), the ranking member of the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure;
  • Speakers are expected to discuss the status of the White House Administration’s proposed $1 trillion, 10-year infrastructure plan, and what that plan could ultimately include, such as funds for increasing broadband coverage, hospitals, and roads and highways.

ON THE HORIZON

  • December 6 at 10:00am ET, the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works is scheduled to hold a hearing on the nomination of R.D. James to be Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works – click here for more information;
  • December 6 at 2:30pm ET, the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management, & Regulatory Oversight is scheduled to hold a hearing on the challenges of Superfund and waste cleanup efforts following natural disasters – click here for more information;
  • December 7 at 10:00am ET, the House Committee on Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Energy is scheduled to hold a hearing titled ‘The Mission of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’ – click here for more information;
  • December 7 at 10:00am ET, the House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations is scheduled to hold a hearing titled ‘Transforming the Department of the Interior for the 21st Century’– click here for more information;
  • December 8 at 9:00am ET, the House Committee on Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations is scheduled to hold a hearing titled ‘Examining the Role of the Department of Energy in Energy Sector Cybersecurity’– click here to follow live.