House Set to Pass Pared-Down COVID-19 Relief Bill; Water Sector Assistance Still Included
(September 30, 2020) – The U.S. House of Representatives is set this week to pass another round of COVID-19 relief legislation. The latest iteration is an updated and “pared-down” version of the HEROES Act that passed the House in May.
As with the HEROES Act, this updated version also includes $1.5 billion in aid to water and sewer utilities to help their low-income ratepayers during this challenging time.
The same $1.5 billion provided for the sector in this updated and pared-down legislation is important given that the overall new bill’s top-line is $1.2 trillion less than what passed in the House HEROES bill in May. Many other line items from the May version of the bill have been reduced, so it is notable that the water assistance amount has stayed the same.
Unfortunately, just as with the first HEROES Act, this legislation is expected to pass along a strong party-line Democratic majority vote in the House and is unlikely to go anywhere in the U.S. Senate. Congress will then likely adjourn later this week until after the November elections without having passed any further substantial COVID-19 relief legislation into law.
However, momentum for COVID-19 relief assistance for the water sector continues to grow as the week’s bill will mark the second time this year legislation providing federal water ratepayer assistance has passed the House, and it further lays the groundwork for inclusion in any potential future package with the Senate.
NACWA and its water sector partners will continue working closely with Congress to ensure that direct assistance for water and wastewater utilities is included in any future COVID-19 relief legislation. NACWA also encourages all members to continue advocating this message to their Senators and Representatives.