Congress Back in Session Following Summer Recess; Faces Full Fall Agenda
After almost a month away from Washington, DC, members of Congress returned to Capitol Hill September 5 with a full agenda. Even before the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, Congress faced a packed September schedule. In the storm’s wake, storm/flood relief and reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (by Sept. 30th) will likely become top priorities. NACWA will be working hard from a national advocacy perspective to ensure clean water utilities impacted by the hurricane receive the federal support necessary to resume normal operations and repair damaged infrastructure.
Other critical items on Congress’s to-do list include passing a Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) funding package before the current year ends on September 30 and raising the nation’s debt ceiling before it is reached at the beginning of October. Congress must also pass a FY18 Budget Resolution, which will come too late to guide the development of the FY18 Appropriations bills, but would procedurally enable Republicans to advance tax code reform with only a simple majority of 50 Senate votes. Other time-sensitive issues for the Fall include reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Federal Aviation Authority.
While Congressional staff and the White House continue to express interest in advancing infrastructure legislation, the other major tasks listed above could crowd out near-term action on a federal infrastructure package. NACWA will continue working to position clean water as a key driver in the infrastructure conversation. Ongoing advocacy to maintain the tax-exemption for municipal bonds and strong clean water funding will also be top NACWA priorities this Fall.
Discussions are also ramping up for the 2018 Farm Bill. This far-reaching legislation addresses a myriad of issues of importance to NACWA members related to water quality and nutrients. NACWA has already been working to develop and advance priorities for inclusion in the bill and this work will continue in earnest this fall.
To discuss any legislative issues, please contact Kristina Surfus, NACWA’s Legislative Director.