As early as February 6, the House of Representatives may vote on another Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the federal government operational until March 23, 2018;
Details of the CR are still being discussed by leadership of both parties, however it is anticipated the CR would fund government operations at FY17 levels.
President Announces Infrastructure Plans in State of the Union
On January 30, President Trump made his first official State of the Union Address (SOTU) before Congress;
In the speech, the President called on Congress for a $1.5 trillion infrastructure package;
The speech mirrored the key tenets of a document released in the prior week;
The document outlined steps such as greater participation by states and more private investment in infrastructure through mechanisms like tolling;
The President also called for a streamlining of the federal permitting process, down to “no more than two years”;
The SOTU did not give details on how the proposed $200 billion in federal investment would spur the additional billions needed in non-federal investment;
Members of Congress have expressed some doubts about finding the necessary funding;
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) called the proposal a good start, but stated that paying for it presents problems;
House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) has stated that any package must be bipartisan;
Chairman Shuster also stated support for increasing the federal gas tax as a potential revenue source.
GAC in D.C. This Week
APWA’s Government Affairs Committee (GAC) will be in Washington D.C. this week for their annual meeting which includes briefings from key congressional and committee staff members;
The GAC will also hear from federal agencies including the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), FirstNet, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA);
GAC members will conclude their time in Washington with a tour of the National Weather Service (NWS) headquarters in Silver Spring, MD.
Water Infrastructure Financing Legislation Introduced
Last week, members of the House and Senate introduced the Securing Required Funding for Water Infrastructure Now (SRF WIN) Act;
If enacted, the SRF WIN Act would provide $10 billion in investment for water infrastructure each year for the next five years;
In the Senate, S. 2364 is cosponsored by Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA);
In the House, H.R. 4902 is cosponsored by Representatives John Katko (R-N.Y.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR);
Click here to contact your Senators, and here to contact your Representative.
Administration Finalizes Rule to Delay WOTUS Implementation
The EPA and the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) finalized a rule to delay implementation of the Waters of the US rule;
The new rule delays implementation until 2020;
The White House Office of Management and Budget completed the review of the rule last week;
The Trump Administration has been seeking to rescind and rewrite the overall WOTUS rule;
APWA submitted comments on clarifying WOTUS last fall.
FCC Moves to Improve Range of Wireless Emergency Alerts
Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), by a unanimous 5-0 vote, approved a proposal to allow for more precise pinpoint location detection when responding to an emergency call from a Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA);
This proposal would go into effect November 30, 2019 and will require wireless providers deliver the alert to 100 percent of the target area overlapping with the wireless provider’s network coverage area, with no more than 0.1-mile overshoot;
WEA, which was first deployed in 2012, is a tool for authorized federal, state and local government entities to send geographically targeted alerts and warnings to the WEA-capable mobile devices of participating wireless providers’ subscribers;
SAFECOM, which includes APWA member Phil Mann, Assistant Director of Public Works for Gainesville, FL, released a summary report from a joint meeting with the National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators (NCSWIC) in Norman, OK, held November 6-9, 2017;
SAFECOM was created in 2001 with the purpose of improving designated emergency response providers’ inter-jurisdictional and inter-disciplinary emergency communications interoperability through collaboration with emergency responders across federal, state, local, tribal, territorial governments, and international borders;
You may view a copy of the winter 2017 SAFECOM Quarterly Newsletter with information on the joint meeting here.
ON THE HORIZON
On February 6 at 10:00am ET, the House Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response & Communications is scheduled to hold a hearing titled “Ensuring Effective and Reliable Alerts and Warnings” – to viewthe hearing click here;
On February 7 at 10:00am ET, the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing titled “Reauthorizing DHS: Positioning DHS to Address New and Emerging Threats to the Homeland” – to view the hearing click here;
On February 8 at 10:00am ET, the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on energy infrastructure, which will include discussion on cybersecurity and the electric grid – to view the hearing click here.