(April 24, 2020) – Congress moved this week to advance another emergency supplemental spending package to provide more funding for COVID-19 testing, hospital aid and small business loans, as it struggles to support overwhelmed health systems and contain the national economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Senate passed this latest package Tuesday, and the House did the same Thursday evening.
Congress will return fully on May 4th at the earliest, meaning that passage of the next major phase of any coronavirus relief will also be delayed. This provides a critical window for the clean water sector and clean water utilities to continue their advocacy for inclusion in the next legislative package. NACWA continues to push for inclusion of direct federal financial relief to utilities to help offset the growing revenue losses from the economic disruption caused by the pandemic and to assist utilities in maintaining services to households struggling with water affordability.
NACWA anticipates that the next major phase of relief will include a broad congressional push to provide relief to state and municipal governments, including public clean water agencies, that are facing sharp losses in revenues. Democratic leadership asked for this funding to be included in the supplemental package that advanced this week, but ultimately agreed to get additional hospital and business relief out the door first – with a reported commitment from Republican leadership that public sector assistance would be integrated to the next package.
NACWA is working to urge municipal assistance is provided and ensure it can benefit all clean water agencies. NACWA also anticipates this next package could include assistance for essential needs, such as nutrition assistance, and is urging Congress to incorporate assistance to utilities for water ratepayers as well – with water being an essential need anytime, but particularly during this public health crisis.
It is critical that all NACWA members contact their Members of Congress to let them know how the pandemic is impacting your specific utility and what the federal government can do to help. NACWA has developed a template letter to assist in this outreach. Please also send a copy of any correspondence to NACWA.
Important information to share with Congress includes anticipated short-term revenue impacts to your utility and also any longer-term projects you have in the pipeline that could be funded through a federal stimulus/jobs bill to help put people back to work in your local community.
A huge THANK YOU goes out to the many utilities who have been actively engaged with their Congressional delegations so far. Please don’t hesitate to contact Kristina Surfus or Jason Isakovic on NACWA staff for any assistance with congressional outreach.