Congress Returns with Busy Three Weeks Ahead
(December 4, 2019) – Congress returned to Washington, DC this week for what is expected to be a busy three-week legislative period prior to adjourning for the holiday recess.
Just before Thanksgiving, Congressional appropriators came to an agreement on top-line spending levels for each of the 12 annual appropriations bill, paving the way for further negotiations to continue on finalizing a Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) appropriations package before the current continuing resolution (CR) to fund the federal government expires on December 20. Due to some potentially contentious policy riders and the White House’s continued request for border wall funding, Congressional leadership is still deciding how they will advance the appropriations measures, either as a full omnibus package or in a series of minibuses.
NACWA will continue working to ensure the numerous key clean water provisions secured in the House and Senate bills remain in any final legislative package and will keep its members apprised as things develop further on the appropriations front in the coming weeks.
Also just before Thanksgiving, the legislative PFAS fight in Congress continued with the House Energy & Commerce Committee advancing, along a mostly party line vote, a package that includes problematic provisions designating PFAS compounds as a hazardous substance under federal CERCLA/Superfund law with no exemptions for public drinking water or clean water utilities.
The markup and advancement of this package by the committee was in large part due to the fact that negotiations have continued to stall on how to address PFAS in the final Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). With a bipartisan PFAS bill passing in the Senate earlier this year and subsequently included in the Senate passed version of the NDAA, which takes the approach also supported by both NACWA and House Republicans, Senate Republicans have continued to resist the House Democrats PFAS legislative approach.
Given the strong partisan and bicameral differences at this time, it appears that the PFAS issue will not be included in the final FY20 NDAA. However, even if it is ultimately left out of the NDAA, PFAS will continue to be a top issue in Congress moving forward and continued NACWA member advocacy and engagement will be critical to push back on problematic provisions as any related legislation advances.