Representative Grace Napolitano (D-CA) has reintroduced legislation to increase the funding authorization for the popular Title XVI Program. Entitled the Water Recycling Investment and Improvement Act (H.R. 1015), the bill increases the authorization level for the program to $500 million from the current level of $50 million, and would make it a permanent program. Currently, it is set to expire this year if Congress does not reauthorize the program. The Title XVI program, carried out by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, provides funding to support the planning, design, and construction of water recycling and reuse projects in partnership with localities. The bill has been referred to the Committee on Natural Resources where the next steps will be for the committee to hold a hearing to consider the legislation.
CASA recently submitted a letter of support for this legislation, and if CASA members wish to send their letters of support, members may do so by sending letters to Representative Napolitano’s office.
Senate Committee Reports Out USEPA Nominee
The Committee on Environment and Public Works reported the nomination of Michael Regan to be Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) on a vote of 11-4, along party lines. Regan’s nomination now goes to the Senate floor to be voted on. A date for a floor vote on the nomination has yet to be scheduled. Regan currently serves as Secretary for the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.
Congress Continues Race to Pass COVID Relief by Next Month
Congressional Democrats continued efforts this week to advance COVID-19 relief legislation to meet the self-imposed deadline of March 14 when federal unemployment insurance benefits, covering more than 18 million Americans, expire. House passage is all but assured, but debate over a mandate to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour and stimulus checks for undocumented immigrants could threaten swift passage in the Senate and force a House-Senate conference to iron out differences. If this occurs, final passage and enactment could be delayed until late March or early April.
Committee on the Budget Chairman, John Yarmuth (D-KY), is scheduled to stitch together a final bill using the nine individual titles developed by the various House authorizing committees over the last two weeks that followed the outlines of the White House American Rescue Plan. After analyzing the nine titles, the Congressional Budget Office determined that a final package would trigger $1.95 trillion in new spending. The Fiscal 2021 Budget Resolution (S. Con. Res. 5), which both chambers agreed to earlier this month, limits the total cost of the relief package to not more than $1.89 trillion. Once the Committee on the Budget approves the package, it will go to the Committee on Rules where any substantive changes to the package will occur to bring the package under the $1.89 trillion ceiling. The Senate would then consider the House-passed measure and, either, accept the package allowing for enactment. If amended the measure would then be sent back to the House for a final vote or a formal conference.
Lawmakers are also preparing for the second phase of the Biden Administration’s Build Back Better plan. In both the House and Senate, committees with jurisdiction over infrastructure policy are readying hearings into the needs of the nation’s water, ports, roads, airports, broadband and other public infrastructure with an eye toward passing a massive investment bill later this fall. Next week, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment will hold its first hearing to examine the urgent investment needs of the nation’s wastewater infrastructure. The hearing is scheduled for today, Tuesday, February 23 and will focus on provisions that were passed by the House last year as part of the Moving Forward Act, including $40 billion to support USEPA’s Clean Water Act State Revolving Loan Fund Program.