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FY 2019 Appropriations Update
Both chambers are back in session this week, and September 30, the end of fiscal year (FY) 2018, is on the very near horizon;
To date, President Trump has signed the first FY 2019 minibus appropriations bill sent to him by Congress, which includes FY 2019 funding for Energy and Water, the Legislative Branch, and Military Construction-Veterans Affairs;
This week, Congress is expected to pass a second FY 2019 appropriations minibus (H.R. 6157), including funding for the Departments of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education;
H.R. 6157 will also serve as a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the rest of the federal government at FY 2018 funding levels through December 7, 2018, in order to allow additional time for spending negotiations following the November 6 mid-term election.
DOT Announces $14 Million in Emergency Relief Funds
On September 20, the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced $14 million in emergency relief will be made available to help restore access to essential roads and bridges damaged by Hurricane Florence throughout North Carolina;
To view the FHWA release with additional details, please click here.
FAA Compromise Bill Expected this Week
After months of negotiations, compromise language to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for five years, through 2023, was agreed upon by the Chairs and Ranking Members for the House Transportation and Infrastructure and Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committees;
The House is expected to consider the measure (H.R. 302) this week and may include a short-term extension in case the Senate cannot pass the measure prior to the upcoming September 30 deadline;
In addition to reauthorizing the FAA, language to reauthorize the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is expected to be included;
Language regarding autonomous vehicles is not included in this measure;
The bill would set standards for federal agencies’ responsibilities in places where per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are detected;
PFAS are a toxic group of industrial chemicals used in a wide variety of products, including firefighting foam and nonstick products;
Federal agencies would need to make an action plan and enter into an agreement with affected states within one year of a request from said state;
In lieu of federal action, eight states (Colorado, Minnesota, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, Texas, Vermont, and Washington) have all acted on water or cleanup regulations for the class of toxic chemicals with multiple consumer and industry uses;
Eleven other states (Alabama, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) are considering similar steps;
In 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a lifetime health advisory (LHA) of 70 parts per trillion (PPT) for the PFAS chemicals perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA);
However, these LHA’s are not enforceable, and have been criticized as being dangerously high;
The Senate is scheduled to hold a hearing on PFAS this week, and action in that body is expected soon.
House Scheduled to Vote on UAS and NIST
Under suspension of the rules, the House is scheduled to vote on H.R. 6620, the Protecting Critical Infrastructure Against Drones and Emerging Threats Act, introduced by Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA);
If passed, H.R. 6620 would direct the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to prepare a threat assessment relating to unmanned aircraft systems (UAS);
H.R. 6620 would also require DHS to consult with state and local government agencies, and the private sector, relating to threats of UAS;
Also scheduled for a vote under suspension of the rules, is H.R. 6229, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Reauthorization Act of 2018, introduced by Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA);
If enacted, H.R. 6229 would authorize and fund NIST which is responsible for the creation of the voluntary Cybersecurity Framework which consists of standards, guidelines, and best practices to manage cybersecurity-related risk.
White House Releases Updated National Cybersecurity Policy
A key aspect of the proposed policy would be to grant the DHS more oversight of civilian cybersecurity efforts;
The report details the intent to incorporate the recently created National Risk Management Center (NRMC), in an effort to emphasize the protection of the nation’s critical infrastructure through increased information and collaboration among federal, state, local, tribal and territorial agencies;
Additionally, the White House National Cyber Strategy aims to address the need to provide updates and patching for federal systems to enhance cybersecurity hygiene against nefarious actors;
Last week, a federal judge in North Dakota issued a halt to enforcement of the 2015 “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule in Iowa;
Iowa was not originally among the dozen states involved in the lawsuit to halt implementation of the rule, but has joined at the request of Governor Kim Reynolds;
As a result of an earlier court decision, the 2015 rule is now in effect in the following states: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington;
However, due to injunctions in district courts in North Dakota and Georgia, the 2015 rule will not be in effect in the remaining 24 states;
The agencies submitted a new proposed rule to the Office of Management and Budget for review in June of this year;
The latest regulatory agenda, published by the Trump Administration, anticipates the publication of a proposed WOTUS rule in the Federal Register this month, with a final rule by November 2019;
APWA submitted comments to the EPA and the Corps on the need for clarity in the WOTUS rule in September 2017.
ON THE HORIZON
September 26 at 10:30 am ET, the House Committee on Energy & Commerce’s Subcommittee on Communications & Technology is scheduled to hold a hearing to discuss solutions to strengthen U.S. public safety communications – click here for more information;
September 26, at 2:30 pm ET, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversight & Emergency Management is scheduled to hold a hearing to examine the federal role in the toxic PFAS crisis – click here for more information;
September 27 at 10:15 am ET, the House Committee on Energy & Commerce’s Subcommittee on Energy is scheduled to hold a hearing titled, “DOE Modernization- The Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response” – click here for more information.
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