(May 13, 2020) – Congress continues to debate the contours of its next phase of COVID-19 relief, facing growing pressure to return to Washington, D.C. but with strong differences both across and within parties over the appropriate next steps in addressing the pandemic. The major development this week was the release on May 12th of the U.S. House Democrats’ proposal for the next round of funding. This package totals $3 trillion in spending and features $1 trillion in assistance to state and local governments to address lost revenues as its centerpiece. The package also incorporates $1.5 billion in assistance for low-income water and sewer service ratepayers. These funds would be funneled through the Department of Health and Human Services through the states and then directly to drinking water and clean water utilities.
NACWA has been advocating for such a program for years and has provided input to shape these provisions in a manner that would benefit clean water agencies over the past months and is pleased with their inclusion. The bill also incorporates provisions NACWA supports to ensure public sector employers can leverage payroll tax credits to provide enhanced sick leave and provides assistance for hazard pay to essential workers.
NACWA is working to review the package, released Tuesday afternoon, and will provide more details and guidance to members on next steps for clean water advocacy. The House plans to quickly pass its package as soon as Friday, likely on a partisan basis, but faces disagreements within the party over some of the proposal’s provisions. Meanwhile, Senate Majority leaders have indicated that they intend to move more slowly on the next phase of COVID-19 relief. Realistically, a final deal is expected by Memorial Day at the earliest and more likely, sometime in June. Please contact NACWA’s legislative team, Kristina Surfus or Jason Isakovic, to discuss COVID-19 Congressional actions.