The National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) recently celebrated its 53rd Annual Conference and Exhibition in Omaha, Nebraska and elected leaders for 2019-2020.
News and Updates
The National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) presented its 2019 Achievement and Leadership Awards at its 53rd Annual Conference and Exhibition in Omaha, this Tuesday evening.
After more than a year of negotiations, the Senate appears to have moved closer to an agreement on disaster funding for Puerto Rico, Florida, and California. Sadly, it is likely that the debate around how much the federal government should spend to respond to the impacts of disasters on states, counties, cities, and regions will continue as more and more data suggest that climate change and weather-related disasters are likely to be on-going and have more severe consequences than previously thought.
June 3, 2019 View full newsletter
NEWS FROM WASHINGTON
Congress is in session
Congress Returns With a Herculean Agenda
Congress returns to work today after a week-long recess with fresh hope of passing several bills, including all 12 appropriations bills, legislation to raise the debt ceiling, and a budget agreement that will avoid $100 billion in automatic spending cuts to both discretionary defense and discretionary domestic programs before Congress leaves town for its month-long summer recess.
The degree to which Democrats and Republicans will be able to work together remains an open question given the potential for disagreement on a range of issues other than the fiscal ones mentioned above. These include gun control, Supreme Court nominations, the question of impeachment, and potential problems reauthorizing the Older Americans Act.
So what can we expect over the next 28 full legislative days before the August recess? It is likely that Congress will pass a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill today and it will go to the president for his signature. It is also likely that Congress will find a way around obstacles to passage of the Older Americans Act before the current law expires on September 30. What is not clear, however, is whether Congress will pass 12 appropriations bills on time, adopt legislation to raise the debt ceiling, or avoid $100 billion in cuts to discretionary defense and domestic programs.
It has been suggested that Congress may ultimately pass a two-year continuing resolution in order to keep the government funded through the 2020 election. But, as the New York Times has pointed out, a penchant “for brinkmanship on the debt ceiling and a desire to keep strict spending limits in place, [is] prompting concern on Capitol Hill,” making bi-partisan progress on the debt ceiling and a budget agreement to avoid $100 billion in automatic cuts extremely difficult.
House Set to Pass Disaster Aid after Setbacks
The House is expected to pass a $19.1 billion disaster relief package (HR 2157) today after three Republican congressmen blocked the legislation over the Memorial Day recess. The legislation will provide recovery funding for a series of recent storms, wildfires, and hurricanes. Legislation passed in the Senate shortly before the Memorial Day recess only to be blocked three times over the recess by congressmen Chip Roy (R-TX), Thomas Massie (R-KY), and John Rose (R-TN). Once legislation is passed in the House, the bill will go to the president for signature. (He has already said he will sign it.) The final deal includes $600 million in food stamp aid for Puerto Rico and $300 million in Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grants.
June 13, 2019 View full newsletter
Congress is in session.Senate Transportation Leaders Ask to Repeal $7.6 billion Federal Highway Funding Rescission
Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) and Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-DE) of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee submitted a letter requesting Senate leadership repeal a provision in the FAST Act which would rescind $7.6 billion in federal highway funding on July 1, 2020. The senators state in the letter that they are making progress on a bipartisan surface transportation reauthorization bill, but that it won’t be ready in time to address the scheduled rescission. They are requesting Senate leaders to include a repeal of the provision in a budget or spending agreement that Congress considers before the end of this fiscal year.House to Consider Second Five-Bill Appropriations Minibus Next Week
The House will vote on a second five-bill funding package next week (information on the first five-bill minibus can be found here). The $383 billion bill, H.R. 3055 will combine the Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, Interior-Environment, Military Construction-VA and Transportation-HUD spending bills for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. Congress will have until Thursday morning to file amendments to this second minibus.
Votes on the second minibus will begin after the House moves this week to pass its first five-measure spending package — a nearly $1 trillion package, H.R. 2740, that would fund the departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, Energy, Education, Labor and State, as well as congressional operations. The two spending bills not included in these two minibuses are the measure to fund the Department of Homeland Security, and the measure to fund the Treasury Department, IRS and other agencies which both passed the full committee earlier this week.
U.S. Department of Transportation Announces Availability of $60 Million for Advanced Transportation Technologies Grants
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has released a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for states, cities and other agencies to compete for $60 million in Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment Program (ATCMTD) grants to fund new technologies that improve transportation efficiency. State departments of transportation, local governments, transit agencies, metropolitan planning organizations and other eligible entities are invited to apply under the program. The program has provided $163 million to 28 projects in 19 states over the past three years.