Congressional Committees Release Reconciliation Bills, Water Funding Makes Strides
Congressional work on infrastructure continued this week as several U.S. House committees marked up and passed their respective jurisdictional bills related to the “Reconciliation” package as the Democrat Majority looks to further build on the investments that were included in the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
NACWA and the water sector have been working hard over the past two months to ensure clean water is a key component of any Reconciliation package. The following provisions are included in the House bills as it relates to clean water. All dollar amounts would be provided as direct, one-time appropriations.
- $2 billion for the Sewer Overflow and Stormwater Reuse Municipal Grants program, of which $1 billion would be targeted towards disadvantaged communities.
- Water workforce development grants as eligible under a $495 million training and technical assistance pot.
- $125 million for Alternative Water Source Project Grants.
- $5 million for an updated Clean Water Needs Survey.
- An additional $500 million for the HHS Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) that was created and funded in last December’s and this past March’s COVID relief packages for a total of $1.1 billion.There are efforts in the Senate to run these funds through EPA instead and set up a permanent low-income water assistance program at EPA, although it is not clear this will be successful due to parliamentary rules.
- Restores tax provisions to once again to allow interest on advance refunding of bonds issued by state and local governments to be exempt from tax, which was repealed in the 2017 Tax bill.
Once all of the House Committee markups have concluded this week, the House Budget Committee will package all of the respective bills together and send one large bill to the House floor for a vote.
Unlike the House, the Senate will forgo the individual committee markup process and will release their Reconciliation package sometime in the coming week that is expected to largely mirror the House package.
Given some moderate Democrat concerns about the size and scope of the proposed $3.5 trillion Reconciliation bill, and several House Progressives opposition to passage of the bipartisan infrastructure package until the Reconciliation measure has separately passed, timing for final votes on both pieces of legislation remains unclear.
NACWA is pleased with the attention being paid to additional investments in water as part of the Reconciliation process. However, continued advocacy by NACWA members is needed to ensure these clean water investments remain intact as the House and Senate work towards a final Reconciliation bill to send to President Biden’s desk along with the bipartisan infrastructure bill.