(June 4, 2018) – Members of Congress return to Capitol Hill this week from their Memorial Day recess with a full legislative agenda to tackle ahead of their next scheduled recess over July 4th.
The House is expected to vote later this week on its version of the 2018 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), H.R. 8, which authorizes individual US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) water resources projects and is considered a “must-pass” bill every two years. Unlike the Senate WRDA bill, S. 2800, which takes an expanded water infrastructure approach and includes several important NACWA priorities, the House bill is narrower and focuses mainly on USACE project authorizations and procedures.
The bill does include a provision championed by NACWA and the WateReuse Association that will provide enhanced coordination between the USACE and local governments for stormwater management and local water resource management. H.R. 8 is expected to pass the House with bipartisan support and the Senate is expected to vote on S. 2800 in the coming weeks.
Additionally, the House will likely begin working this week or next on a larger infrastructure package that is expected to include water infrastructure and policy provisions similar to those in the Senate WRDA bill. This bill will then serve as a vehicle for legislative negotiations as the House and Senate go to conference and work out the differences in their respective WRDA bills with the hope of advancing a larger water infrastructure package in both chambers. A key priority for NACWA in this process will be to include language supporting integrated planning in the House legislation, providing a path forward for work with the Senate (which has already included integrated planning language in its WRDA bill) to codify integrated planning provisions in the Clean Water Act.
Also, the Senate Agriculture Committee is expected to release its version of the 2018 Farm Bill in the next week or two. After failing to pass its Farm Bill two weeks ago, the House is expected to re-vote on the House version of the Farm Bill in late June. The House bill contains several key NACWA priorities and the Association is hopeful Congressional leadership can work to find a path forward for its re-consideration.
Both the House and Senate also continue work on the appropriations process. The House will begin voting on appropriations bills in packages this week, known as a “minibus”. The Appropriations Committees are expected to mark up the FY19 Interior and Environment Bill in the coming weeks before being brought before the full House and Senate. The bill provides funding for EPA and its programs that are important to the clean water sector, and early indications are that strong funding for key programs like the Clean Water State Revolving Funds and the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program will be included.
NACWA will continue to provide key legislative updates as they unfold in the coming weeks. Please contact Jason Isakovic, NACWA’s Legislative Director, to discuss further.