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Clean Water Current

House Works on Appropriations and Defense Bills as Congress Enters Final Legislative Stretch Before August Recess

Jul 20, 2022

The U.S. House of Representatives is in its final two-week legislative stretch before adjourning for the August district work period.

As part of that final stretch, on Thursday the House is expected to pass its version of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Omnibus Appropriations package that includes the Interior and Environment spending bill, which passed the House Appropriations Committee before July 4th, and provides annual federal appropriations for U.S. EPA and core clean water programs.

As a reminder, these annual FY23 appropriations provided for clean water programs in the Omnibus bill are in addition to the billions in mandatory clean water appropriations over the next five years that were appropriated in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) that was enacted into law last November.  

While NACWA is disappointed with the overall approach the Omnibus takes by funding earmarks at the expense of FY23 Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) dollars, NACWA is pleased that two key programs the Association strongly advocated for were included:

  • $280 million for EPA’s Sewer Overflow and Stormwater Reuse Municipal Grants program, in line with the authorized level under BIL and a $237 million increase over the current level of $43 million; and
  • $2 million for EPA’s Integrated Planning (IP) activities, representing the first time dedicated funding for IP has been provided since it was codified into law in 2019.

In a related development, the House last week passed its version of the FY23 National Defense Authorization (NDAA).  Unlike in previous years, this year’s bill did not include amendments designating PFAS as hazardous under CERCLA or similar problematic PFAS provisions for clean water utilities.  NACWA and its partners in the water sector have advocated aggressively against these provisions.

While most of the PFAS provisions and amendments included in the House FY23 NDAA were Department of Defense (DoD) related, one amendment in particular related to POTWs was included, which NACWA supports.  The amendment, offered by Rep. Pappas (D-NH), would require EPA to develop water quality criteria for PFAS within 3 years and Effluent Limitation Guidelines (ELGs) for a variety of industrial categories over the next 4 years.  

NACWA’s support of this amendment is part of the Association’s support for the standalone bill that was introduced earlier in this Congress by Rep. Pappas and Senator Gillibrand (D-NY) and provides a proactive policy solution to help POTWs control PFAS entering their systems from industrial dischargers.

As far as developments in the Senate, timing on passage of the upper chamber’s versions of appropriations bills and the NDAA remain unclear.  

It is possible the Senate takes up its version of the NDAA, which passed the Senate Armed Services Committee in June, prior to August recess and then moves to conference with the House in September.  As passed by the committee, the Senate NDAA does not include any concerning non-DoD related PFAS provisions.

In terms of appropriations, it is likely the Senate will not introduce or advance any of its annual spending measures prior to August and may even move straight to conference a final Omnibus package with the House this fall.  Either way, a short-term continuing resolution (CR) will likely be needed to temporarily fund the federal government beginning October 1 at current levels through sometime into the late fall.

In the meantime, NACWA will continue advocating with both the House and Senate about the importance of any final Omnibus Appropriations package fully funding current and newly created clean water programs under the BIL. NACWA urges all of its members to do the same and to utilize NACWA’s FY23 appropriations testimony that outlines the key funding requests, as well as a recent coalition letter NACWA led advocating for full funding of water programs authorized under BIL.

Please contact Jason Isakovic, NACWA’s Director of Legislative Affairs, with any questions or to discuss further.

 

 

 

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