On Jan. 25, President Trump announced a deal with Democrats to end the shutdown. Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer is in direct talks with the White House over finalizing the language. The deal would be a CR for three weeks, which would include the current level of fencing and wall repair money ($1.3 billion for the year.) There are still issues over the backpay provisions that any agreement would include, one source says. Once it's passed, lawmakers would have three weeks to reach an agreement that addresses President Trump's border wall funding request.

If they don't reach a deal, Trump is expected to say he'll invoke a national emergency.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s preference is to voice vote any deal announced right away. Senators were told today in an email, but that is not a sure thing until every senator has signed off.

On Thursday when the Senate rejected two measures that could have potentially ended the partial government shutdown that has lasted over a month and is the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.The first vote was on a White-House backed proposal that would have exchanged reopening the government for $5.7 billion for the wall.  It would have allowed Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and some Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders to apply for a three-year extension of some legal protections, but included new restrictions on asylum seekers.  The bill failed 50-47.  That vote was followed by a Democratic led proposal to advance a stopgap bill, which would have reopened the quarter of the government currently shuttered and funded it through Feb. 8.  Senators voted 52-44 on the legislation, falling short of the 60 votes needed to defeat a filibuster.

Earlier this month, the House passed a $35.9 billion Interior-EPA measure, HR 266 (116), that would fund the agencies through Sept. 30, 2019. This is part of a House plan to pass each of the remaining appropriations piecemeal until Congressional leaders and President Trump can come to an agreement on the wall.  However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has already stated that he does not plan to bring up any of the individual bills, as the President has vowed not to sign any of them.

While full effects of the government shutdown may not have been felt yet, more energy and environment-related disruptions may begin to show.  EPA-subsidized loans to install pipes, dig wells, capture rain, and build other types of water infrastructure are currently still going out, but could run into trouble over time.  Though states and cities do not necessarily rely on EPA grants to make loans—but the grants can help states and cities keep their interest rates low.  The real issue may be if interest rates spike if the government is shutdown for months. 

“The recipients of water infrastructure loans through a state’s revolving fund (SRF) can typically get an interest rate between 1.5 percent and 2 percent, compared to around 4 percent for the municipal bond market,” Rudy Chow, head of the Baltimore City Department of Public Works, said earlier this month.  Because of the low interest rates, Baltimore has been able to use these loans to finance water infrastructure upgrades in the state. 

Higher interest rates could eventually make that more difficult.  Chow said he’s been in regular contact since the shutdown began with state officials in Annapolis who run Maryland’s Revolving Fund program and “according to them, everything is OK. We should just continue to conduct business as usual.”  (Bloomberg BNA, 1/10/19)

If you are a WEF Member and have a specific concern regarding payment during the U.S. Government Shutdown, please note that WEF is, of course, ready to work with any federal employees on membership renewals, conference registrations, or other costs affiliated with our organization.

In addition, on Dec. 31, 2018,  EPA put out a contingency plan for  shutdown of the agency due to a funding hiatus, which as stated in the plan, provides general guidelines for the orderly handling of EPA operations in the event of a funding hiatus caused by the lack of appropriations.

About This Week in Washington

This Week in Washington is an online news portal from the Water Environment Federation that provides updates on the latest legislative and regulatory developments that affect the water and wastewater communities. It provides concise reports of related bills, regulations, legal decisions, congressional hearings, and other federal government actions, following key issues from introduction to final determination.

This Week in Washington Logo

Return to full list of This Week in Washington articles.

Read more

 

Visit the WEF News Hub to see all of the current news from WEF.

Subscribe

WEF SmartBrief, a daily e-newsletter designed especially for water sector professionals, delivers the latest news articles from This Week in Washington to your inbox.

SmartBrief is a quick, two-minute read that will help keep you up-to-date with the latest water sector news and trends. Through WEF SmartBrief, you will gain carefully curated and condensed summaries of the day’s happenings, including legislative and regulatory news from WEF and worldwide news sources.

Subscribe to WEF SmartBrief

Want to keep up to date with WEF's news and announcements about our programs and products?

join our mailing list

Contact Us

This Week in Washington is compiled by the WEF Government Affairs department. Please contact us with any questions or comments.

Claudio Ternieden
Senior Director of Government Affairs & Strategic Partnerships

Steve Dye
Legislative Director

Amy Kathman
Government Affairs Specialist