Congress Remains at Impasse on Key Funding Bills as Deadlines Loom
Congressional negotiators are working furiously against the clock to hammer out agreements to pass critical bills to avoid a government shutdown, raise the debt limit, and advance infrastructure investment legislation.
While these issues are much broader than the clean water sector’s priorities, they directly impact federal functioning and Congress’ ability to address other issues of importance to clean water utilities.
First, Congress must pass a Fiscal Year 2022 spending bill or continuing resolution before October 1st to avoid a shutdown of non-essential federal services. Second, Congress must pass a bill to raise the debt limit before October 18th, the date specified by the U.S. Treasury, to avoid a government default.
Congressional Democrats had proposed pairing these two issues into one bill, but after those efforts were rebuffed this week Speaker Pelosi indicated that the two issues will be decoupled. Republicans and Democrats are now working jointly on a continuing resolution package that will keep the government funded until early December. NACWA anticipates a continuing resolution will be signed into law by Friday, October 1 and the debt limit will be addressed in early October.
Against that backdrop of critical deadlines, Congressional leadership is also struggling to reach agreement on House passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill -- which was passed by the Senate last month – and House and Senate passage of a larger reconciliation bill with additional infrastructure, social service, and climate change investments.
The larger reconciliation bill is being advanced by Congressional Democrats and the White House, but intra-party disagreements between Congressional progressives and moderates has kept an agreement elusive.
Speaker Pelosi originally hoped to pass both pieces of legislation out of the House this week. As of this writing, leadership has shifted toward advancing a vote solely on the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill this week, and delaying a vote on Reconciliation until the House and Senate can reach an agreement on the size, scope, and timing of the package.
Reconciliation could take weeks or months to fully resolve – and the debate will continue to put downward pressure on the size of reconciliation, which was originally proposed at $3.5 Trillion in total spending.
NACWA staff remains closely engaged as these deliberations continue, and encourages members to continue advocating to their respective Members of Congress on the positive impact clean water investments have on their utility and community to help ensure that if overall spending levels are cut, clean water investments remain a strong component of the package.