Congress Set to Return to Washington with Busy Fall Ahead

(September 4, 2019) - After more than a month away from Washington, DC in their home states and districts, Members of Congress return to Capitol Hill next week for what is expected to be a busy fall.  While several hot button issues are part of the mix, the legislative calendar includes several items that impact public clean water utilities.

One of the key legislative items on deck is passing a Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) omnibus appropriations package to fund the federal government before the start of the fiscal year on October 1, based on the increased budgetary spending levels agreed to by Congress prior to the August recess.  NACWA has been continuing to work with appropriators over the August recess to ensure inclusion of several key clean water priorities in the Interior and Environment funding portion of the FY20 omnibus appropriations package which funds EPA and core clean water infrastructure programs.

Given the short timeframe before the October 1 deadline, a short-term continuing resolution (CR) will likely be needed to temporarily fund the federal government while Congress works out the remaining details prior to bringing the appropriations package before the House and Senate for a final vote.

Another key legislative item on deck is the FY20 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which includes problematic PFAS provisions in the House version that can have potential unintended consequences on public clean water utilities and their ratepayers. 

NACWA has continued to engage with Congress over the past month on the problematic nature of the provisions and to develop a proposed path forward.  NACWA member engagement has been, and will continue to be, crucial in getting Members of Congress to better understand these implications and ensure any final bill that includes PFAS language properly reflects the public clean water sector’s concerns in an appropriate, scientifically justified manner.

With policy divisions between the Senate and House on the PFAS issue, and strong bicameral and partisan divisions on the defense policy side, the exact timing of a conferenced agreement and final vote this fall on the NDAA is yet to be determined.

This fall will also see Congress beginning to ramp up its preliminary work on the 2020 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) in which clean water infrastructure is expected to be a key component, including a potential Clean Water State Revolving Fund reauthorization bill.  NACWA is continuing to engage with both House and Senate committee staff, as well as personal Member offices, on key clean water priorities for WRDA 2020.

NACWA urges all of its members to continue advocating with their respective Senators and Representatives on these key clean water issues and the impact they have on their constituents. Please contact Jason Isakovic or Kristina Surfus, NACWA’s Legislative Directors, with any questions.