Capitol Insider - April

 

Biden Administration Announces Its Infrastructure Proposal
Water Infrastructure Bill Unanimously Passes Senate Committee
NUCA 2021 Infrastructure Priorities
Registration Open for May 26th NUCA Washington Summit
Private Investment Capital Should Be Used For More Projects
Senate Confirms Marty Walsh as New USDOL Secretary
OSHA Covid-19 Workplace Regs Placed on Hold
Senate Parliamentary Rules May Play A Large Part in Infrastructure
Sign Up For NUCA Advocacy Alerts!
Senate Committee Examines Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Projects

 

Biden Administration Announces Its Infrastructure Proposal

On March 31, President Biden announced his administration’s $2.2 trillion infrastructure plan, titled the “American Jobs Plan.” In addition to seeking upgrades to U.S. ports, highways, bridges, airports, and waterways, the plan would make significant investments in the electric grid, high-speed broadband, housing, schools, and commercial buildings.

 

Notably for our industry the plan asks for $111 billion to improve water infrastructure and replace lead service lines. That includes:

 

  • $45 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund 

  • $56 billion in grants and low-cost flexible loans to states to modernize clean water infrastructure 

  • $10 billion in funding to monitor and remediate PFAS in drinking water.

 

The plan also seeks $100 billion to construct high-speed broadband Internet service to all Americans, and $100 billion to build a more resilient electric grid.

 

It is not all good news, however: the plan also calls for the NUCA-opposed PRO Act to be passed. 

 

As of today no legislation to implement any of this has been introduced in Congress, making this proposal right now just a very publicized top-level discussion draft.

 

NUCA will continue to monitor the Administration's proposal when/if it is turned into actual legislative action, and we expect this proposal to be a major topic for May's NUCA Washington Summit (see below for registration). Read NUCA's statement here.

NUCA-Supported Water Infrastructure Bill Unanimously Passes Senate Committee

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved legislation on March 24 to provide about $35 billion over five years for drinking water and wastewater treatment infrastructure projects around the country.

 

The act, titled the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act (DWWIA, S. 914), cleared the committee on a unanimous and rare bipartisan 20-0 vote. Its main provision provides $14.65 billion for each of the two major federal water infrastructure programs, the Drinking Water state revolving funds (SRF) and Clean Water SRF. It is reassuring to know that there is a bipartisan desire to reauthorize the two water infrastructure SRFs at a much higher level than the previous Congress. 

 

NUCA strongly supported this bill and has encouraged all Senators to cosponsor this legislation. It now moves to the Senate for a full vote. Read more here. 

NUCA 2021 Infrastructure Priorities

NUCA sent an important letter to Congress last month outlining eight industry priority areas our lawmakers must address this year. Infrastructure is finally recognized as a critical area that Congress has to address, including finding the new resources to help make these projects become reality.  Read our letter. 

Registration Open for May 26th NUCA Washington Summit

Infrastructure is on Congress's agenda in 2021. NUCA's May 26th virtual Washington Summit needs to be on your agenda, too. 

 

Join us on May 5 at 3pm for the first Summit training webinar, where NUCA government affairs staff will discuss how to participate in the Summit as a first-timer. You'll learn how to maximize your meeting results with your lawmakers. We will have another webinar on how to prepare for Summit (May 12) and finally on May 19th via webinar receive NUCA's Congressional Briefing Session on key issues. NUCA Chapters will schedule the May 26th virtual meetings and send details to you on those meetings once you register for the Summit.

 

NUCA members can register via the link below and attend for free the entire virtual 2021 Washington Summit. #NUCASummit Please register here.

Private Investment Capital Should Be Used For More Infrastructure Projects

The Biden Administration's plan to fund its $2.2 trillion infrastructure plan relies on raising corporate taxes. NUCA disagrees with this approach and believes that raising the federal fuel tax--unchanged since 1993--should be part of a better long-term financing plan. 

 

We also believe Congress should think outside-the-box, as our industry has to do when solving difficult questions on a jobsite. NUCA has long maintained that while increased public investment in infrastructure is needed, there is also a role for large investment from the private sector. Tax exempt facility bonds (EFBs) are a very effective tool for financing long-term, capital-intensive infrastructure projects.

 

This session, NUCA is lobbying the House Ways & Means Committee to pass legislation to remove both water and wastewater projects from the limitations for tax-exempt bonds. This may be the year when Congress agrees with us on this important issue. Read our April 5th letter to the Ways & Means Committee.

OSHA Covid-19 Workplace Regs Placed on Hold

New USDOL Secretary Walsh placed a hold on the development of a proposed Emergency Temporary Standard for Covid-19 in the workplace, citing the need to put the process on hold so the standard could be updated "to reflect the latest scientific analysis of the state of the disease." Experts told the media that the need for a temporary standard may be diminishing as Covid-19 case numbers and deaths have declined, and vaccinations for the virus have increased.

 

NUCA has stated repeatedly that utility construction crews have been practicing Covid-19 reduction protocols in their workplaces and jobsites for over a year, and that new regulations were not necessary. More here. 

Senate Confirms Marty Walsh as New USDOL Secretary

On March 23, a 68 to 29 Senate vote confirmed Marty Walsh to be U.S. Labor Department secretary, elevating the former union boss and Boston mayor to oversee the federal department in charge of OSHA, workplace conditions, and employee benefits and rights.

He was sworn into office later that day.

Senate Parliamentary Rules May Play A Large Part in Infrastructure Package

Since the Administration infrastructure plan was introduced, there has been much discussion about how to bring Republicans to the table to help in passage of the proposal. However, an April 5 ruling from the Senate parliamentarian allowing the Democrats to use the chambers “budget reconciliation” process to unilaterally move this bill by only Democrat votes is now a real possibility.

 

Instead of the Senate’s regular order process requiring 60 votes, both chambers could now push this plan through under budget reconciliation rules, which “reconciles” taxes and spending and only needs 51 votes to pass. 

 

If this alternate process is used, there is both good and bad news for the industry. The good news is the higher funding levels will be a part of that and the labor provisions we disagree with are not likely to be included because they have no direct financial implications to the federal budget. The bad news is funding for all the climate/energy provisions and restrictions would also be included. More here.

Sign Up For NUCA Advocacy Alerts!

If you're a NUCA member, your Washington governments affairs team wants you to be part of our Capitol Hill advocacy program! NUCA urges you to sign up to receive our Muster advocacy alerts. These emails will alert you to pending legislative action where your opinion can make a difference.

 

It's easy to sign up via the link below. Use your personal home address if you can do so, since our online Muster advocacy program finds your members of Congress via your voter registration address. But business addresses work just as well to receive our alerts.

 

I'm a NUCA member and I want to receive NUCA's Advocacy Alerts!

Senate Committee Examines Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Projects

On March 17, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a virtual hearing on "Examining the Challenges Facing Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Projects."

 

Committee chairman Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) remarked, "When we invest in water infrastructure, that investment not only pays for itself—it also helps in growing the economy of our nation."

 

NUCA submitted our hearing statement which was included in the official record.  Read our hearing statement.

 

We hope you find its information demonstrating your NUCA membership investment directly working for you each day in Washington, D.C., looking out for your business’s interests. NUCA deeply appreciates your support.

 

NUCA’s Government Affairs office can be contacted at:
Office: 703-750-1326 Eben Wyman, Principal: eben@wymanassociates.net

Zack Perconti, Associate: zack@wymanassociates.net

NUCA of Arizona

970.376.1190

© 2015 NUCA of Arizona