Week Ending November 15, 2019

Congress yet to finish federal spending plans more than six weeks past the start of the new fiscal year.

  • Government Funding Deadline Looming
  • AFSCME Fights for Water Infrastructure Investments

Government Funding Deadline Looming

The continuing resolution (CR) that is funding the federal government at last year’s fiscal year (FY) 2019 spending levels will expire on Nov. 21. Yet there is still no clear plan to move forward with a full-year funding plan. To avoid a government shutdown, Congress must pass and the president must sign a clean CR extension. There is talk of pushing the new deadline to right before Christmas, Dec. 20.

  • Senate Inaction: Although the Senate has passed four of the 12 appropriations bills that have also passed the House, the CR extension will provide both chambers additional time to agree on subcommittee allocations so they can hopefully move forward with a full-year plan.

What You Need to Know: It is important that Congress pass all appropriations bills before the end of the calendar year. Important federally funded programs should not continue to be funded at FY 2019 levels and we need to ensure that another government shutdown does not occur.

AFSCME Fights for Water Infrastructure Investments

At a congressional briefing hosted by Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.) on Thursday, AFSCME joined allies from Food and Water Watch and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense Fund to pitch the need for strong investments in public drinking water and wastewater infrastructure programs. Representative Lawrence and allied groups advocated for passage of the “Water Affordability, Transparency, Equity and Reliability (WATER) Act” of 2019 (H.R. 1417), a critical piece of AFSCME’s infrastructure agenda. 

  • Renewal of water infrastructure programs imminent: In 2020 Congress will consider the biennial Water Resources Development Act. While there’s bipartisan support for infrastructure investment, the big debate is over how to pay for it. The WATER Act would dedicate a progressive tax stream for water projects to take the burden off struggling households and localities.
  • Making sure every American has access to clean and safe drinking water: Federal investments to ensure clean drinking water and the safe disposal of wastewater have been steadily dwindling over time. This has made problems worse throughout the country, culminating in crises in communities like Flint, Michigan.

What You Need to Know: The WATER Act, which would provide $35 billion to fully fund the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds program, increases funding for the School Drinking Water Grant Program, and enables public schools to test and replace drinking water infrastructure.

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