(November 20, 2020) – As the deadline fast approaches to fund the government past its current December 11th expiration date, the Senate recently introduced its Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) appropriations bills. This includes the Interior and Environmental bill which funds the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and core clean water programs. The Senate and House are now working on reaching agreement on a final omnibus appropriations package in the coming weeks.
Unlike the FY21 House Interior appropriations bill, which provided billions of dollars in new funding for clean water and environmental programs, the Senate bill largely keeps FY21 funding in the range of current levels. The Senate Interior bill includes:
- $9.09 billion for EPA, a slight increase above this year's funding of $9.06 billion;
- $1.639 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF), same as the current level;
- $32 million in Sewer Overflow and Stormwater Control Grants, a $4 million increase over the current level;
- $60 million for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program, same as the current level;
- $1 million for the Water Workforce Infrastructure and Utility Development Grants, same as the current level;
- $513.5 million for EPA’s Geographic Watershed Programs, a $3.5 million increase over current levels; and
- Report language supporting EPA’s ongoing activities related to integrated planning and directing the Agency to move as expeditiously as possible in providing States with additional resources and guidance to issue CWA permits for municipal dischargers that include integrated planning concepts.
Additionally, thanks to the strong advocacy of NACWA, its members, and the water sector, the Senate rejected the language included in the House passed appropriations bill that provides no new direct FY21 appropriations for WIFIA and instead would rescind outstanding unobligated WIFIA appropriations from FY17-FY19 and use that funding to support new loans in FY21, hampering communities that have been following the WIFIA application process in good faith.
Given the Senate’s WIFIA funding approach and the historic bipartisan support the program has garnered in Congress, NACWA is optimistic that any final appropriations package will not include the harmful approach taken in the House bill. Further, given the more bipartisan nature of the Senate’s appropriations bills compared to that of the House, it is more likely that any final appropriations package will mirror the Senate’s.
With few remaining legislative days left this year and the political divide in Washington, especially with a new Administration set to take over in January, there is a strong likelihood that Congress doesn’t reach a consensus on a final spending package and instead passes another continuing resolution (CR) to avoid a government shutdown and extend current levels of government funding into sometime next year.
In the meantime, NACWA will continue working with appropriators and key members of Congress to ensure any final FY21 appropriations package includes strong federal funding for clean water. Please contact Kristina Surfus or Jason Isakovic on NACWA’s legislative team to discuss further.