House Passes Major Infrastructure Bill (H.R. 2)
On a partisan vote of 233 – 188, the House passed the Moving Forward Act, H.R. 2 on July 1. H.R. 2 is an expansive investment package, delivering a total of $1.5 trillion in federal funding to support diverse infrastructure sectors across the U.S., including the wastewater sector. A brief overview of the investment provisions for water infrastructure include the following:
- Authorizes the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund at $40 billion to over five years;
- Authorizes the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund at $25 billion to support activities removing drinking water contaminants, including PFAS;
- Increases tax-exempt bond financing opportunities for water infrastructure projects through exempting bonds funding these projects from state allocation caps for Private Activity Bonds.
- Authorizes $400 million for each of fiscal years 2021-2025 for USEPA’s sewer overflow and stormwater municipal grants program.
- Establishes a new grants program to support community water systems affected by drinking water contaminants pay for capital costs associated with implementing eligible treatment technologies, including PFAS removal.
Upon passing H.R. 2, the House also advanced a series of amendments to the bill, including a bipartisan amendment sponsored by Representative Harley Rouda (D-CA) that supports the modernization of wastewater infrastructure. CASA worked with House staff to support the measure’s ultimate approval on the House floor. The amendment creates a new grant program to assist public water systems modernize their infrastructure to support improving the nation’s water quality through utilizing smart technologies. The amendment was co-sponsored by Representatives Jared Huffman (D-CA) and John Katko (R-NY).
The bill now goes to the Senate, but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has already stated that the bill has no chance of being considered on the Senate floor. Additionally, the White House publicly threatened to veto H.R. 2 should it reach the President’s desk.
House Select Committee Releases Climate Change Policy Recommendations and Strategies Report
The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis has released its policy recommendations and strategies report for how Congress and federal agencies can best respond to the environmental, public health, and economic impacts related to climate change. The Climate Crisis Action Plan is intended to be a roadmap for Congress to address current and future adverse impacts from climate change and help revamp national and local economies, with a focus on clean energy, environmental justice, and resiliency.
The select committee, which was formed in 2019, does not have the legislative authority to advance legislation and can only recommend policy initiatives. As a result, the report identifies current House bills that align with each of its suggested policy recommendations and identifies which standing committees have the appropriate legislative authorities to act upon the recommendations. Central to the report is the need to integrate infrastructure investment into climate-focused proposals, including wastewater and drinking water infrastructure. A summary of selected policy recommendations concerning wastewater and water infrastructure investment can be accessed here.
The release of the Climate Crisis Action Plan came as the House passed the Moving Forward Act, H.R. 2; an expansive infrastructure investment package that included climate-focused provisions of its own. While the select committee consists of both Democrat and Republican members, Republicans contend that the Action Plan focuses mainly on Democrat led initiatives. The Action Plan can be understood as a blueprint for how House Democrats would address the climate crisis.