Congress Back in Session with Appropriations, PFAS Battles Looming

(October 16, 2019) – After a two-week home state and district work period, Congress is back in session this week with a busy legislative agenda ahead before the Thanksgiving recess that includes several key items for the public clean water sector.

On the appropriations front, the House has passed its version of the FY20 Interior & Environment Appropriations to fund the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and key clean water programs.  The Senate is now working to bring its version, which recently passed out of committee, to the full Senate for a vote in the coming weeks.

Even though Congress passed a broad bipartisan two-year budget deal this summer that raised federal spending levels, political divisions over certain contentious policy riders are currently hindering the ability to bring a final appropriations package to the Senate floor.

The federal government is currently operating under a short-term continuing resolution (CR) passed by Congress earlier this fall that funds the government at current levels until November 21.  Given several important provisions included in both the House and Senate appropriations bills for public clean water utilities, NACWA is hopeful that the Senate can advance its version and then quickly move to conference the bill with the House and put forth and pass into law a final package this fall. 

On the PFAS front, NACWA and its members, along with our water sector partners, are continuing to make good progress on educating Members of Congress and their staffs about the ways in which public clean water utilities can help properly address PFAS concerns.  The Association is also emphasizing the potential unintended consequences of regulating PFAS under the Clean Water Act or federal CERCLA/Superfund laws without first allowing for appropriate scientific research and analysis.

Over the coming weeks, Congressional leadership is looking to finalize and bring to the House and Senate floors a final National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that resolves current differences on PFAS provisions between the NACWA supported Senate bill and the House bill, which contains significant problematic language for the sector.

Lastly, NACWA is continuing to work with both Democrats and Republicans on the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee to advance legislation that would reauthorize and increase funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF).  As one of NACWA’s key legislative priorities this Congress, getting a bill through the committee and subsequently the House this fall is critical as NACWA works to ensure inclusion of the bill in the larger 2020 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).

NACWA urges all of its members to continue advocating with their respective Senators and Representatives on these priority clean water issues and the impact they have on your ratepayers and their constituents. Please contact Jason Isakovic or Kristina Surfus, NACWA’s Legislative Directors, with any questions.