Provided by Ted Stiger, Director of Policy, Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP)
Congress needs to pass a stopgap spending before this current fiscal year ends on September 30. Congress continues to debate a measure that would fund government programs at current levels (fiscal year 2016) until December 9. Senate leaders hope to pass their version of the bill this week to avoid a government shutdown and keep federal agencies funded into FY 2017, which starts on October 1. The House is likely to follow the Senate and adopt the same measure.
Congressional leaders have not reached a deal yet on emergency Zika virus funding and language restricting funds for Planned Parenthood from the Zika package, which has caused delays in getting the funding measure passed.
Congress will still have to return in a lame-duck session after the elections to complete the full FY 2017 appropriations process.
On September 15, the Senate passed the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (WRDA)-S. 2848. The legislation identifies $4.5 billion of water-related infrastructure projects and authorizes $4.9 billion for drinking and clean water infrastructure over five years.
The measure also provides $220 million in direct emergency assistance to address drinking water issues in communities such as Flint, MI.
Of interest to RCAP, the bill authorizes a grant program to assist small and disadvantaged communities in complying with the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act. A priority is given to underserved communities without basic drinking water or wastewater services. This section authorizes $230 million for FY 2017, and $300 million for each of fiscal years 2018 through 2021.
Additionally, the bill establishes a technical assistance program for small treatment works, to be carried out by qualified nonprofit technical service providers. Authorizes $15 million a year for five years. A full section by section summary of the bill is attached in the appendices of this report.
Over in the House, legislative efforts are underway to move their WRDA package (H.R. 5303) for floor consideration this week. Should the House pass its WRDA package, a conference committee could work to reconcile the respective Senate and House packages in time for enactment of the final bill during a December Lame Duck session.
Ted Stiger joined RCAP in 2016 as Policy Director and is responsible for the organization’s national policy and legislative efforts as well as RCAP’s USDA grant portfolio.
RCAP Solutions is the Northeast affiliate of the Rural Community Assistance Partnership. The Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) is a national network of nonprofit organizations working to ensure that rural and small communities throughout the United States have access to safe drinking water and sanitary wastewater disposal. The six regional RCAPs its partners or affiliates provide a variety of programs in their section of the United States to accomplish this goal, such as direct training and technical assistance; leveraging millions of dollars to assist communities develop and improve their water and wastewater systems.