Congressional Work on Water Continues as Infrastructure Debate Drags On
Congressional focus on water legislation continues this week both at the highest levels of leadership – with the White House and Congressional leaders continuing to negotiate a potential bipartisan infrastructure deal – and at the Committee level, where work continues to advance authorization bills.
Most significantly, the House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee today marked up and advanced H.R. 3293, the Low-Income Water Customer Assistance Programs Act of 2021. NACWA is strongly advocating for this bill, which is led by Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) and Rep. Katko (R-NY) and would establish a permanent low-income water/wastewater customer assistance program at EPA. The bill builds off the initial ratepayer assistance funding provided as part of the COVID-19 relief packages.
The full E&C Committee’s passage of the bill this week followed the subcommittee’s passage of the bill last week, underscoring House Leadership’s interest in quickly advancing a suite of bills related to infrastructure before the July 4th holiday recess.
As part of the E&C markup Wednesday, the Committee also advanced H.R. 2467, the PFAS Action Act of 2021. This expansive bill would address PFAS contamination through several environmental statutes and across environmental media. NACWA continues to raise concerns with the legislation’s designation of PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under CERCLA without an exemption for public clean and drinking water utilities – an exemption which was provided in the bill for municipal airports.
NACWA also continues to work productively with Congress to improve provisions that would direct EPA to regulate PFAS under the Clean Water Act. These conversations are ongoing at the same time that EPA is accelerating its efforts to regulate PFAS. NACWA remains closely engaged on both fronts in support of holistic, science-based approaches to PFAS management that put the responsibility and costs on polluters and protecting public ratepayers and utilities from undue burdens.
The overall prospects for a final bipartisan infrastructure deal between the White House and Congress remained murky this week, as negotiations dragged out further toward the summer recess. In the interim, NACWA continues advocating that any final infrastructure deal place water on par with other critical infrastructure sectors as part of our ongoing Affordable Water, Resilient Communities campaign.