APWA – Washington Report – July 29, 2019

July 29, 2019                                     Share:    

**PLEASE NOTE—Due to the August Congressional District Work Period, the next edition of the APWA Washington Report, will be sent out post-Labor Day on September 8, 2019. In the meantime, and for updates,please follow APWA Government Affairs on Twitter @APWAGOVAFFAIRS and check Advocacy News on www.apwa.net.


Senate EPW to Mark-Up Surface Transportation Reauthorization Bill

  • On July 30, the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works (EPW) is scheduled to mark-up its surface transportation reauthorization bill, the America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA);
  • The yet to be numbered bill was released this morning, and according to EPW staff during a brief for transportation advocates that APWA participated in last Thursday, the bill is bipartisan and, if enacted, would authorize $287 billion in funding for surface transportation priorities over five years;
  • Describing the bill, EPW Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) has called ATIA, “the largest transportation highway infrastructure bill in history”, and noted that it would be a 27.7% increase over the current surface transportation law, Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act (Public Law 114-94);
  • The EPW legislation includes programs related to highways, bridges, and other programs under the Committee’s jurisdiction, and is focused on providing stable funding, increasing safety, increasing innovation, and resiliency;
  • In the Senate, the Committee on Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs, the Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation, and the Committee on Finance all have jurisdiction over various pieces of surface transportation programs;
  • EPW members and staff have already begun outreach to the other Senate committees with jurisdiction over federal surface transportation programs;
  • According to EPW staff, the goal is to have ATIA considered on the Senate floor this fall after fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations bills are completed;
  • The current funding formula which distributes 90% of federal dollars to the states, remains in place under ATIA;
  • Also included in ATIA, is a repeal of $7.68 billion in highway funding contract authority scheduled to occur in July 2020 as part of section 1438 of the FAST Act;
  • Another aspect expected in ATIA is codifying streamlining measures in One Federal DecisionExecutive Order 13807, which aims to eliminate duplication in federal permitting processes and sets a two-year goal to complete all environmental reviews and authorization decisions regarding major infrastructure projects;
  • Currently, APWA has an internal surface transportation reauthorization work group drafting a policy statement specifically outlining APWA’s priorities for the next federal surface transportation law to the Trump Administration and Congress;
  • The APWA policy on surface transportation reauthorization is expected to be finalized this September;
  • The FAST Act is scheduled to expire on September 30, 2020 and the EPW Committee is seeking to move the conversation forward, and authorize the associated federal transportation programs on time, hopefully avoiding the need for extensions;
  • For any questions related to APWA’s transportation policy priorities, please contact Director of Government Affairs Andrea Eales at aeales@apwa.net.

House Passes Two-Year Budget Deal

  • Last week, the House voted to pass a two-year budget agreement struck by Congress and the White House with a vote of 284-189;
  • After passing the bill, the House immediately adjourned for recess, returning September 9;
  • The bill now heads to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has stated that he expects the measure to pass;
  • Once passed, the Senate will then adjourn for recess and the bill will head to President Trump’s desk to be signed;
  • The legislation, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019, would increase statutory spending limits by $323 billion combined in FY 2020 and 2021;
  • These increases will allow more discretionary spending and avert steep sequestration cuts across the federal budget;
  • The legislation would also suspend the debt limit through July 31, 2021;
  • The Senate Committee on Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-VT) have both issued their support for the measure;
  • Chairman Shelby stated that once the bill is passed, he intends to hold markups for appropriations bills beginning the week of September 9, when the Senate has returned from recess;
  • Chairman Shelby has also said that a continuing resolution will be needed to temporarily fund the government after the current FY ends September 30, and until FY 2020 appropriations measures are signed into law;
  • To date, the Senate has not introduced any FY 2020 appropriations legislation, as the chamber was waiting for a budget agreement;
  • The House has passed nine of their 12 appropriation bills, though those numbers will likely need to be amended given the new spending caps;
  • You may read a summary of the budget agreement here.

DOT Secretary Chao Announces Next Round of INFRA Grant Funds

  • On July 25, APWA attended an invitation only event at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) headquarters, during which Secretary Elaine Chao announced $856 million in proposed grants available through the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) discretionary grant program;
  • The INFRA grant program, established in the FAST Act of 2015, is designed to leverage federal grant funding and incentivize project sponsors to pursue innovative technology to improve the nation’s transportation systems;
  • Projects that are considered eligible for funding through INFRA include those where the local sponsor is significantly invested, and is positioned to proceed rapidly to construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, or acquisition of property;
  • For full eligibility details, and to read a copy of the DOT release on the grant announcement, please click here.

 National THIRA Released by FEMA

  • Last week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released its 2019 National Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA);
  • THIRA is a three-step process created to enhance collaboration between state and local governments, federal agencies, and other emergency management entities;
  • THIRA examines threats and hazards that may impact our communities if they were to occur, assesses what those impacts would be, and based on those impacts addresses what capabilities our communities should have to be able to meet those challenges;
  • For additional information on the 2019 THIRA, please click here.

FEMA and FCC to Conduct Test of the Nationwide Emergency Alert System

  • On August 7 at 2:20 pm ET, FEMA and the Federal Communications Commission are scheduled to conduct a Nationwide Emergency Alert System Test, through FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS);
  • This test message should last approximately one minute, and will originate from designated radio stations (known as Primary Entry Point stations) which participate as a component of IPAWS called the National Public Warning System;
  • For additional information, please click here.

On the Horizon-

  • On July 30, the Senate EPW Committee is scheduled to mark-up its proposed surface transportation reauthorization bill (referenced above) – click here for more information;
  • July 31, APWA Emergency Management Technical Committee Chair Mark Ray and Government Affairs Manager Marty Williams are scheduled to attend the 2019 National Homeland Security Consortium (NHSC) summer meeting in Louisville, KY;
  • July 31 at 2:00 pm ET, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation has scheduled a hearing titled, “Next Steps for Positive Train Control Implementation” – click here for more information;
  • August 1 at 4:00 pm ET, the Federal Aviation Administration is scheduled to conduct a webinar titled, “How to Navigate UAS Facility Maps” – click here for more information;
  • August 7 at 12:00 pm ET, the United States Geological Survey is scheduled to host a webinar on the 3D Elevation Program’s (3DEP) Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) application process – click here for more information.