September 12, 2017 - Both the White House and the U.S. House of Representatives expressed strong support last week for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF), with the House approving a budget amendment that restores full funding to the SRF for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. NACWA’s advocacy and collaboration with other sector organizations on behalf of water infrastructure funding played a crucial role in this result.
As Congress returned to D.C. for the September session, one of the top items on the House agenda was passing its remaining eight FY 2018 Appropriations bills, including the bill funding EPA. Unfortunately, the House Appropriations Committee originally included a significant cut of $250 million to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF).
NACWA is pleased to report that there was strong pushback on this cut from both the Administration and the full House, and that the CWSRF funding line was increased during the House floor amendment process. The effort to restore $250 million to the CWSRF line was championed by Rep. Katko (R-NY), who sponsored the amendment. On the floor, Rep. Katko highlighted the value of the CWSRF and recommended major increases to its funding level as part of an overall infrastructure plan.
NACWA worked closely with Rep. Katko on his efforts to protect the CWSRF this year, which also included a bipartisan letter this Spring seeking a doubling of the CWSRF from its FY17 levels. NACWA is grateful to Rep. Katko for his leadership in keeping the CWSRF at the forefront of infrastructure and funding discussions.
The White House also weighed in with support for the SRF. The President's Statement of Administration Policy, in which he indicated he would sign the EPA funding bill if it reached his desk while outlining his reservations, highlighted his concern with the cuts to the SRF in the original House proposal:
While the Administration appreciates the attention paid to critical water infrastructure needs through the funding provided to the Water Infrastructure and Finance Innovation Act credit program, the Administration is disappointed in the reduction to the Clean Water SRF. Infrastructure investment is a priority for the Administration and the bill level of $1.1 billion for the SRF, which is $250 million lower than the FY 2018 Budget request, would result in less funding going to States to finance critical wastewater and storm water infrastructure investments.
This statement from the White House likely encouraged some House members to adopt the Katko amendment and maintain full SRF funding.
The House is scheduled to finish its Floor consideration on the eight appropriations bills and vote to pass the package later this week, largely on party lines with the minority Democrats remaining opposed to the overall funding levels.
As a whole, the funding package includes unprecedented cuts to the EPA as well as many other agencies and programs, and as such will not be supported by the Senate. For its part, the Senate is still working to draft many of its 12 Appropriations bills this fall. Nonetheless, the House and Presidential positioning puts the CWSRF in a strong position relative to upcoming funding and infrastructure discussions.