Tuesday, July 13, 2021
Virtual Meeting via ZOOM
Present: Deborah Barmack, Carole Beswick, Greg Bradbard, Mike Burrows, Ken Coate, Sandra Cuellar, Michelle Decker, Kevin Dyerly, Louis Goodwin, Otis Greer, Milford Harrison, Fran Inman, Mark Kaenel, Lowell King, Mike Layne, Bill Lemann, Darcy McNaboe, Miguel Mendoza, John Mirau, Dan Murphy, Brian Nestande, Bansree Parikh, Catherine Pritchett, Thomas Rice, Michael Rivera, Elizabeth Romero, Kate Salvesen, Dan Schenkel, Kristine Scott, Phil Southard, Eric Ustation, Lupe Valdez, Pete Van Helden, Reggie Webb, Ray Wolfe, Marisa Yeager and Frank Zabaleta.
Speakers: Leticia White & Drew Tatum.
Announcements: 1) The Environmental Committee recommends Inland Action send a letter of support for a WFIA Loan to support WATERSHED CONNECT. This regional infrastructure program is comprised of a network of integrated projects designed to achieve water supply reliability, climate resilience, and long-term ecological health of the Upper Santa Ana River (Upper SAR) Watershed. The program is being delivered by a coalition of water agencies with decades of experience collaborating on regional water resource management solutions. Motion by K. Coate/Second byM. Harrison/Passed: A letter of support for a WFIA Loan to support Watershed Connect will be sent.
2) Assembly Ramos has introduced AB-1183 which creates a California Desert Conservation Program. Effecting our Mojave and Colorado Deserts, the legislation would make both private and public agencies eligible for existing grants and funding that can address the economic, tourism and archaeological resources in our County. Inland Action staff is recommending support of this bill which has passed the Assembly and is now in the Senate. There has not been any opposition to this bill.
Motion by K. Coate/Second by M. Decker/Passed: A letter of support will be sent for AB 1183.
Lowell King, Chair, presiding.
Motion by L. Goodwin/Second by M. Harrison/Passed: Minutes from July 6, 2021.
Mike Burrows introduced Leticia White, Partner, Innovative Federal Strategies, and Drew Tatum, Vice President of Operations and Policy, Innovative Federal Strategies.
They discussed the federal infrastructure legislation that is currently being considered.
Bipartisan Infrastructure Package:
- On Thursday, June 24th, a group of 20 bipartisan Senators & President Biden agreed on 8-year framework agreement.
- The framework includes $579 billion in new spending for a total of $973 billion over five years and just over $1.2 trillion over eight years.
- It allocates $312 billion for transportation programs, including roads, bridges, airports, and electric vehicles infrastructure. The remaining $266 billion would go to water infrastructure, broadband, environmental remediation, power infrastructure and other areas.
- The White House has put out the attached Fact Sheet on what they call the “largest long-term investment in our infrastructure and competitiveness in nearly a century”. The framework is said to be financed through a combination of closing the tax gap, redirecting unspent emergency relief funds, targeted corporate user fees, and the macroeconomic impact of infrastructure.
- While not officially yet in the public domain, they provided the broad categories where spending is said to be directed under the framework. Note that the total “new” spending only account for roughly $579 billion, as the total framework accounts for the transportation spending that would already be spent through normal transportation authorization legislation and the appropriations process.
- Also note that there is no legislative language yet associated with this framework. Senators have spent much of the last two weeks of recess working on turning the framework into legislative text.
- Following the announcement of the bipartisan deal, President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) indicated that there would be no bipartisan transportation agreement without the House and Senate also passing a budget resolution with reconciliation instructions that would allow Democrats to pass another non-traditional infrastructure package without Republican Support.
- “There won’t be an infrastructure bill unless we have a reconciliation bill. Pure and simple,” she said at the press conference. Pelosi has likely taken this position in response to calls from her most progressive Members that the proposed spending levels from the bipartisan framework are not sufficient to gain their support. Democrats are worried passage of the bipartisan deal will make it harder to pass a larger package of Democratic spending priorities on climate change, health care, education, and other issues.
- President Biden later walked back comments in which he said he would not sign the bipartisan bill if Democrats did not also pass a reconciliation package. GOP Senators have said President Biden’s assurance that he isn’t linking the bipartisan bill to a reconciliation package allow the negotiations on the package to move forward.
- The White House is mounting an all-out effort to sell the bipartisan deal – President Biden has traveled to various states to endorse the deal, and White House officials have met with dozens of lawmakers over the past several weeks.
- On Tuesday, July 6, the House Problem Solvers Caucus announced support for the bipartisan framework.
- Legislation could be brought up on the Senate floor as soon as the week of July 19th.
- Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) wants to bring up both the bipartisan agreement, and a budget resolution that would allow Democrats to pass their non-traditional infrastructure bill, before the Senate leaves town for August recess, but has not announced which he will bring to the floor first.
- Schumer also warned colleagues to be prepared to work long nights, over the weekends and into the scheduled August recess so that they can finish work on the infrastructure bill and budget resolution.
- As of July 12, 22 Senators support the legislation, with Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) announcing her support last Wednesday.
* Current Surface Transportation Authorization expires Sept. 30th *
INVEST in America Act:
- $760 billion proposal to reauthorize surface transportation and fund water projects.
- Legislation passed the House on Thursday, July 1st largely along party lines (221-201).
- Democrats hailed it as a monumental shift toward more sustainable infrastructure projects, with Republicans warning of lost jobs and a skyrocketing federal debt. Democrats are hoping to use the legislation passed on Thursday to make it easier to include some of their priorities in the bipartisan package that is still being negotiated.
- 1,473 projects requested by members were included in the legislation – 403 of those projects requested by GOP lawmakers.
- The legislation also includes:
- The Water Quality and Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021 would authorize.
- $40 billion over five years for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, $2 billion for grants to capture, treat, or reuse sewer overflows or stormwater.
- $2.5 billion in grants for States to implement State water pollution control programs.
- $1 billion for Clean Water pilot programs for watershed-based efforts to address wet weather discharges, to promote stormwater best practices, to undertake integrated water resource management, and to increase climate resiliency.
- $1 billion in grants for alternative water source projects, such as wastewater or stormwater reuse, to augment the existing water supplies.
- $1 billion in Clean Water Act grants to municipalities to implement treatment standards for PFAS and other emerging contaminants.
- $2.5 billion in wastewater infrastructure assistance to address the backlog of critical needs for Indian Tribes.
- The Water Quality and Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021 would authorize.
- The Assistance, Quality, and Affordability Act of 2021 would authorize $53 billion over 10 years for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, $45 billion for lead service line replacement, and $5 billion for PFAS contamination cleanup.
Senate Surface Transportation Authorization Update:
- Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee leaders announced on Saturday, May 22 that they reached agreement on the surface transportation reauthorization bill, which would provide $304 billion in funding for highways, roads and bridges.
- The legislation is more than 34% larger than the last reauthorization in 2015, but similar to what the committee advanced last Congress, which didn’t receive a vote on the Senate floor.
- The bill would authorize $2.5 billion for electric vehicle charging and alternative fueling infrastructure grants and $6.4 billion for states to reduce transportation emissions.
- The bill includes a title on climate change.
- The legislation would streamline the environmental review process for major projects, requiring the Transportation Department to average no more than two years to complete a review.
- Additionally, it would authorize $2 billion for a grant program for rural communities.
- The bill would authorize $500 million for a Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program – aimed at reconnecting urban communities cut off by highways.
- The legislation was unanimously reported by the Senate EPW Committee on Wednesday, May 26 – no additional action since then.
- The panel is one of the four authorizing committees in the Senate for the legislation – the legislation is also considered in the Banking, Commerce, and Finance committees.
- Senate Finance Committee has jurisdiction over how to pay for the legislation, which would not be fully offset by Highway Trust Fund Revenues.
Attached are copies of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan Fact Sheet and Bipartisan Framework document:
A Q & A period followed.
Meeting adjourned at 9:00 a.m.