The House of Representatives and the Senate are both on their annual August recess, with Representatives and Senators spending time in their respective districts and states. However, Congress takes its recess under a cloud of pessimism regarding its ability to advance legislation, while the White House is also seeing growing disapproval in the polls. In this context, Congress and the Administration need to pivot successfully from a number of recent legislative failures, and will hopefully return to Washington after Labor Day eager for a more productive Fall.
When Congress resumes, it must address many high priority deadlines. These include avoiding a government shutdown on October 1 by passing a Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Appropriations package, or (more likely) a Continuing Resolution (CR), and ensuring the U.S. doesn’t risk defaulting on its debt obligations by raising the debt ceiling. Other short-term priorities include reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration by October. Each of these issues will require significant time and political effort. Further, Republican leadership in Congress have outlined an ambitious timetable to push ahead with another major priority, comprehensive tax reform, during the Fall.
Needless to say, this legislative agenda will keep Congress very busy, and likely means that a comprehensive infrastructure bill will remain on the back burner for the time being. However, preparations for an infrastructure bill, particularly regarding how it could address clean water, continue at the congressional committee level. NACWA anticipates that these dedicated efforts will continue, and has been engaged with key congressional offices to ensure water issues are front and center.
At the same time, NACWA expects the Fall will see development of initial legislation for the 2018 Farm Bill by the agriculture committees in both chambers, including the conservation title which has an important nexus with clean water. The Association has already been active in developing advocacy initiatives for inclusion in the Farm Bill, including greater collaborative efforts with agricultural interests to address nutrient impairments.
In the meantime, Members of the House of Representatives and Senators will be visiting their respective districts and states throughout August. NACWA encourages utility members to make use of this valuable time and invite local Members of Congress to visit your facilities! To make the invitation, simply reach out to the Scheduler in your Members’ home office. For assistance in this process, contact Oliver Hamilton, NACWA’s Government Affairs Manager.