Congress Returns and Focuses on Key CASA Issues
Congress returns to work after Labor Day and the legislative agenda is expected to focus on crucial CASA issues including FY 2020 spending bills and markup of clean water State Revolving Loan Fund legislation. On the budget front, the Senate will be busy finalizing its version of agency spending bills following earlier action this summer on spending legislation by the House.
According to congressional budget leadership, the limited number of weeks before the October 1 start of the new fiscal year means that a stopgap spending bill will be required to avoid the prospect of a governmental shutdown. As of this writing, it seems that Congress is preparing to approve a Continuing Resolution that would extend into December.
For CASA, it appears that final spending agreements for water infrastructure programs like the State Revolving Funds and water recycling will continue to garner strong support. The House passed a spending package for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that contains $3 billion for the overall SRF program. This level is expected to survive any final congressional negotiations on the agency’s budget.
Related to the funding debate, a significant priority in the House is to approve Clean Water SRF reauthorization that would put Congress on record in support of increased funding of the SRF. Under the pending legislation, H.R. 1497, the SRF would be authorized at approximately $16 billion over five years. There is an ongoing discussion about the incorporation of other provisions into the bill including a provision allowing state agencies to issue NPDES permit terms for up to ten year periods.
Other provisions that may be incorporated include green infrastructure funding, supporting workforce development, and addressing disadvantaged communities’ needs for assistance to maintain treatment facilities. According to the Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure staff, every effort is being made to consider and vote on the legislation by mid-September. If that schedule is met, it will position a clean water infrastructure bill for final congressional action next year.