Uncertainty in Congress as End of Year Looms
(December 18, 2018) - Washington D.C. is mired in uncertainty this week as Congress and the White House try to find a way to complete seven unfinished Fiscal Year 2019 Appropriations bills and wrap up other end-of-year legislative priorities.
The current funding for a number of federal agencies, including EPA, runs out this Friday, Dec. 21st. If a deal is not reached by then, EPA and many federal agencies will be largely unfunded and non-essential workers will be furloughed.
Last week, House and Senate leadership from both parties met with President Trump regarding the appropriate funding level for a border wall, which is the linchpin for reaching a deal. While that meeting did not result in a path forward for a deal, the White House today suggested it is open to finding a compromise.
Options on the table for avoiding a shutdown include another short-term “continuing resolution” to early January, or a longer-term continuing resolution which would fund agencies at their FY18 levels through the remainder of FY19. For many key water programs, the impact would be similar because the FY19 proposed funding levels from Congress largely reflect the significant increases achieved in FY18.
Federal agencies have shutdown plans in place which they will activate if needed. EPA would furlough the majority of its nearly 14,000 workers. Essential personnel remaining on the job would include certain laboratory personnel along with staff providing Superfund site security and environmental emergency response.
Meanwhile, preparations continue for the new Congress starting January 3rd. NACWA continues to engage with Congress on our outstanding 115th Congress issues and to tee up clean water priorities for the 116th Congress. NACWA staff will keep members updated as the year wraps up – in the meantime, reach out to Kristina Surfus or Jason Isakovic at NACWA to discuss any legislative issues further.