Congress Returns to Negotiate FY21 Federal Funding, Potential COVID-19 Relief

(September 10, 2020) – During late August and the Labor Day recess, limited negotiations between Congressional leadership and the White House continued around priority issues for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 funding and additional COVID-19 relief.

Progress was made on FY21 funding, with leaders agreeing to a “clean” continuing resolution (CR) that will begin October 1st and extend current federal funding levels into December 2020. This is necessary because Congress has not yet completed its annual appropriations bills with just a few weeks left in current federal FY20, which ends September 30th.

While the CR essentially kicks the can down the road on a final FY21 agreement, it will avoid a federal government shutdown and ensure continuity of federal government operations at current funding levels through the Fall and into the post-election period.

COVID-19 relief negotiations have not been as successful. The Democrat-controlled House and Republican-controlled Senate and White House remain extremely far apart on the scope and size of another relief package. Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) released new text of a “slim” Republican relief package – half the size of their August offer – and he has been working in recent days to rally Republican Senators behind the bill.

However, the proposal does not include top Democratic priorities including municipal and State relief, and it does not include any water assistance unlike the most recent House bill. Further, the Senate package is not expected to garner any bipartisan support and it remains to be seen whether this week’s efforts move forward or if progress halts on the next package.

Either way, it seems increasingly likely that any additional COVID-19 relief that may be passed this year will be narrow, adding to the stress and frustration of many sectors and local governments struggling around the country.  

While FY21 funding and COVID-19 relief talks may be relatively quiet in the coming weeks, NACWA anticipates continued Congressional staff-level negotiations on a 2020 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) package. NACWA has been strongly advocating for increased clean water funding authorizations and related policy provisions over the course of this Congress and will remain closely engaged as these talks proceed.

Contact Kristina Surfus or Jason Isakovic to discuss any federal legislative issues further.