Congress to Begin Again on Funding the Federal Government
Congress will again have to pass a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to avoid a partial federal government shutdown when the current CR expires on January 19;
This next short-term CR will run through February 16;
Another CR is necessary to reach agreement on funding the federal government for the remainder of FY 2018, which began on October 1, 2017;
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said that he does not expect any riders to be attached to the CR;
Some Democrats have stated they will not support a CR unless a vote is held on legislation to reauthorize the policy on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA);
Congress must come to an agreement on a spending deal to remove the thread of across the board cuts put in place under the 2011 Budget Control Act (Public Law 112-25);
The primary issue being debated in the spending deal is the size of the increase in spending, as well as how to distribute it between defense and non-defense programs;
A proposal floated by House Republicans late last year would have allowed for new spending on defense programs, while keeping current spending levels on non-defense programs;
Democrats are arguing for parity between defense and non-defense spending increases.
President Meets with Key Senators to Discuss Infrastructure
President Trump met with Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works leaders Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) and Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) to discuss the long-awaited White House infrastructure plan;
Senator Barrasso stated the plan would likely be released “a little before or a little after” the State of the Union address, scheduled for January 30;
The current thinking from the White House is the plan will call for $200 billion of direct federal investment, which will spur an additional $800 billion in funding and financing from states, municipalities, and the private sector;
One major stumbling block is how to pay for federal expenditures, as funding would need to be offset by spending reductions elsewhere;
Also unclear is what infrastructure would specifically be included in the overall package.
NFIP Set to Expire January 19
Without Congressional action, funding for National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will expire on January 19, under the existing CR;
NFIP re-authorization will likely be included in any new CR.
U.S. DOT Calling for Stakeholder Engagement on Autonomous Vehicles Policies
Last week the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) released the Federal Automated Vehicle Policy (FAVP) 3.0 which is also known as ‘A Vision for Safety 3.0’;
Secretary Elaine Chao has said FAVP 3.0 emphasizes “a unified, intermodal approach to automated driving systems (ADSs) policy” to safely integrate surface automated transportation systems – including cars, trucks, light rail, infrastructure, and port operations;
To facilitate public engagement, U.S. DOT has created a central point on its website where recent topics related to autonomous vehicles and calls for input may be reviewed;
Presently, calls for comment related to autonomous vehicles are posted from the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, and the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration;
APWA Government Affairs is monitoring these issues and needs to hear from APWA members on the impact of autonomous vehicles on public works;
If you have input to provide, please contact APWA’s Director of Government Affairs Andrea Eales;
Also, please regularly check the hyperlink above as more calls for comment are expected from U.S. DOT in the coming weeks.
APWA Participates in EPA Meeting on Lead and Copper Rule Revision
In a two-hour, closed door meeting with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials, APWA, along with other stakeholder groups, provided comments on revising the Lead and Copper Rule;
The meeting begins a 60-day public comment period;
In the meeting, EPA officials presented potential revisions to the Rule, encompassed in five major areas: 1) lead service line replacement; 2) corrosion control treatment; 3) tap sampling; 4) public education and transparency; and 5) copper requirements;
The presentation centered on what requirements are under the current rule, and potential revisions EPA is considering;
Lead service line replacement, which some stakeholders have called for nationwide, was discussed on several levels, including cost;
With anywhere from six to ten million lead service lines in place across the country, and replacement costing anywhere from $1,200 to $12,300 per line, total costs could spike to $123 billion;
EPA is asking stakeholders to offer comments on the areas of revision presented, as well as potential revisions not covered in the presentation;
If you have questions or comments on this process, please contact APWA Government Affairs Manager Sean Garcia – The EPA presentation may be viewed here.
FCC Plans Vote onProposal to ImproveEmergency Alert Notifications
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has scheduled a vote for January 30, on a proposal designed to allow wireless carriers to send emergency alerts to more specific locations;
The proposal would make it easier to narrow the location of an emergency alert to a radius of one-tenth of a mile from the current range within a specific county;
This action falls in line with FCC efforts to improve communications during natural disasters following recent hurricanes and fires – the proposal text may be read here;
Additionally, the FCC recently updated its rules to require carriers to give more exact wireless-call location information to 911 call centers.
FEMA Seeks Comments on National Mitigation Investment Strategy (NMIS) Draft Report
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is requesting comments on a draft National Mitigation Investment Strategy (NMIS);
NMIS was designed to provide strategic planning considerations for the federal government, as well as state local, tribal and territorial entities and the private sector in making resource allocation decisions;
If you have any questions, or would like to submit comments, please do so by sending them to APWA Government Affairs Manager Marty Williams, by March 5, alternatively, the deadline to submit comments directly to FEMA is March 11,– Click here to view the NMIS draft.
Senate Committee Holds Hearing on Army Corps Project Authorization
With the debate on the 2018 version of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) beginning, the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works held a hearing to discuss project authorization and funding procedures at the Army Corps of Engineers;
Senators on both sides of the aisle complained about a lack of transparency in the process, as well as the slow pace at which projects are undertaken;
One problem with the system, as outlined by several senators, is the Congressional ban on earmarks, which direct funding to specific projects;
After the ban, a WRDA bill was not passed for four years, as members of Congress could not determine how to direct funding to specific projects without violating the earmark ban;
The problem was solved by having stakeholders submit projects to the Corps, who would then submit a list to Congress requesting authorizations for specific projects;
Senators have expressed hope that a new process could be established to keep transparency and increase efficiency;
Democrats on the Committee also referenced the Corps’ work on navigation and flood risk projects, hoping the recent hurricane season would highlight the importance of such projects.
EPA to Hold Information Session on Water Financing Program
On January 17, EPA has scheduled an information session on the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program;
WIFIA program staff will provide an overview of the program, explain the financial benefits of WIFIA loans, and share tips for completing application materials;
The 2014 WIFIA established the WIFIA program, a federal credit program administered by EPA for eligible water and wastewater infrastructure projects;
The WIFIA program accelerates investment in our nation’s water infrastructure by providing long-term, low-cost supplemental loans for regionally and nationally significant projects;
WIFIA works separately from, but in coordination with, the State Revolving Fund programs to provide subsidized financing for large dollar-value projects;
You may learn more about the WIFIA program at the EPA website.
NHSC Conducts Annual Winter Meeting
On January 9, APWA member Mark Ray, Public Works Director for Crystal, MN, was joined by Marty Williams, APWA Government Affairs Manager, at the National Homeland Security Consortium (NHSC) annual winter meeting in Savannah, GA;
Highlights included presentations from Dr. Dan Kaniewski, Deputy Administrator for Protection and National Preparedness at FEMA, sharing that $306 billion dollars was spent by FEMA towards disaster relief efforts in 2017, and from Mr. Alberto Martinez with the Orange County, CA California Fusion Center, updating attendees on fusion center overall general best practices.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Hosts Infrastructure Summit on January 18
APWA Government Affairs will be attending a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Infrastructure panel discussion which is expected to focus on providing recommendations for Congress on assessing funding priorities for infrastructure projects;
This is expected to include delving into the merit of raising the federal Highway Gas Tax, which has remained flat since 1993.
ON THE HORIZON
On January 17, at 10:00 AM ET, the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works has scheduled a hearing titled, “America’s Water Infrastructure Needs and Challenges: Federal Panel” – click here for more information;
On January 17, at 10:00 am ET, the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water & Power has scheduled a hearing to examine the Bureau of Reclamation’s title transfer process and potential benefits to federal and non-federal stakeholders – click here for more information;
On January 17, at 2:00 pm ET, the House Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Protection will hold a hearing titled ‘CDM, the Future of Federal Cybersecurity’, CDM or Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation, provides federal departments and agencies with capabilities and tools that identify cybersecurity risks on an ongoing basis – click here to for more information;
On January 18, at 10:00 am ET, the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources & Environment has scheduled a hearing titled, “America’s Water Resources Infrastructure: Approaches to Enhanced Project Delivery” – click here for more information;
On January 18, 2018 at 10:00 am ET, the House Committee on Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Digital Commerce & Consumer Protection has a hearing scheduled to discuss The Internet of Things – click here for more information;
On January18, at 10:30 am ET, the House Committee on Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Environment has scheduled a hearing titled, “Modernizing the Superfund Cleanup Program” – click here for more information;
The House Committee on Rules is scheduled to hold two days of hearings on January 17 and 18 at 10:30 am ET to examine “Article I: Effective Oversight and The Power of the Purse”, which will include consideration of whether to bring back Congressional earmarks – click here for more information.
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