The House has been working diligently over the past several weeks to advance 12 fiscal year 2018 (FY18) appropriations bills before the August recess, including those which fund programs impacting the clean water sector. Unfortunately, the House-advanced bills represent a mixed bag for the clean water sector.
Overall, the House took a less severe approach toward EPA cuts than did the Trump Administration, proposing greater levels of funding for individual programs including Sec. 319 grants, Sec. 106 grants, Geographic Programs, and agency staffing. The House also included approximately $400 million in its Department of Agriculture (USDA) funding bill for USDA’s Rural Water and Wastewater programs, which would be a dramatic 20% cut from FY17 levels, yet far better than the Trump Administration’s proposed elimination of funding for the program.
However, while providing more for these programs was a strong repudiation of the overall cuts proposed by the Trump Administration, the House simultaneously reduced funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) to $1.14 billion – an 18% cut from current funding levels. Efforts by House Democrats to offer an amendment to restore CWSRF funding were unsuccessful. The bills now await action on the House floor, and even if passed, are strongly partisan and contain funding levels that will likely receive significant bipartisan pushback from the Senate.
For its part, the Senate has not yet released its bills for EPA or related agencies of interest. NACWA will continue to advocate for full and increased funding for the full range of programs important to the clean water sector, both within regular fiscal year appropriations, and in any major infrastructure investment package that may emerge from Congress this year.
For more information, contact Kristina Surfus, NACWA’s Legislative Director.