NEWS FROM WASHINGTONCongress is in session. Congress Pursuing Continuing Resolution to Keep the Government Open After November 21
This week, the House and Senate are expected to adopt a continuing resolution (CR) or short-term funding bill that would keep the government open through December 20. The current CR lapses after November 21 and would result in a government shutdown if Congress does not pass, and the president does not sign, the forthcoming CR.
The CR is necessary as the House and Senate struggle to come up with a final fiscal year (FY) 2020 funding bill. Substantial disagreements exist between the House and Senate and time is running extremely short to reconcile the House and Senate appropriations bills by Friday at midnight.
The House is expected to bring up the CR for a vote sometime this week, but the exact date for the vote remains unclear. According to Bloomberg Government,
neither Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell nor the White House have stated their stance on the CR just yet, but Senate Republicans have said that the absence of an agreement on the border wall funding remains a point of frustration. Proposed House Bill Would Codify CDBG-DR
A modified version of H.R. 3702
, the Reforming Disaster Recovery Act of 2019
, would codify supplemental assistance for disaster relief provided under the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Department’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. The CDBG-Disaster Relief (CDBG-DR) program does not currently have its own authorization, so HUD applies rules for CDBG grants and any additional stipulations made by the supplemental appropriations law that provides the funds. According to Bloomberg Government
, Congress has provided more than $80 billion in CDBG-DR assistance since fiscal year 1993. Along with codifying CDBG-DR, it would add requirements for grant recipients to spend a portion of their funds on mitigation planning, include modified requirements for reconstruction in hazard-prone areas, and extend the availability of funds for insular areas. The bill approved by a vote of 58-0 by the House Financial Services Committee back in July, and the House is expected to vote on the bill on the floor this evening. Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez Unveil Green New Deal for Public Housing
Last Thursday, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) introduced a new version of Green New Deal legislation, The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act
, that would dedicate billions of dollars to energy retrofits for America’s dilapidated public housing stock. The bill would commit up to $180 billion over 10 years to upgrading 1.2 million federally administered homes, which is double the $90 billion estimate from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for necessary repairs in public housing nationwide through 2030. The bill is an effort to kill two birds with one stone as the country’s public housing portfolio is in a dire situation and buildings are responsible for about 39 percent of global carbon emissions (about one-third of emissions in the U.S.
). According to estimates from the progressive think tank Data for Progress
, energy retrofits could reduce the costs of public-housing water bills by $97 million per year (about 30 percent) and bring down energy costs by $613 million (70 percent). EPA Administrator Wheeler Releases National Recycling Framework
At the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) second annual recycling summit this past Friday, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced a national framework
for advancing the recycling system. The framework’s recommendations include exploring tax incentives to encourage recycling investment, establishing metrics to measure recycling, and developing a compilation of publicly available recycling data. Participants in the summit were primarily signatories of the America Recycles pledge, including NARC
. The pledge aims to encourage participants to work together to identify “specific actions that we can take collectively and within our respective organizations to improve the nation’s recycling system.” Census Bureau Struggles to Add Staff For 2020’s Census
The federal government hopes to hire around half a million workers by next spring to complete the 2020 census. However, low unemployment and background-check delays are making this task challenging. To combat this, the Census Bureau is using new methods such as ads to target potential employees, encouraging them to become one of the nearly 500,000 enumerators needed. With fewer people looking for jobs, census outreach workers have also shifted focus to people who are already employed and are looking for additional, part-time work. In some parts of the country, the pay for census jobs hasn’t been high enough to attract applicants, according to the Government Accountability Office. Additionally, some applicants who already applied this year for early rounds of census jobs have been running into processing delays for background checks. As a result, the Census Bureau is more than three months behind in getting some 1,500 outreach workers, known as partnership specialists, fully on board.