Happy December and a warm welcome to our many new WaterLog subscribers!! Here’s the latest from your Nation’s Capital.
With Senate passage of the tax bill, that chamber’s version will have to be reconciled with a somewhat different tax bill previously passed by the House. I mention this issue for two reasons., First, the future of private activity bonds as well as some types of municipal bonds that local governments use to fund infrastructure may be affected by these bills. Second, Republican leaders want to get a final tax bill into the President by Christmas. So it’s going to be a major focus of their attention, as well as the several hundred lobbyists who have been hired to work on the bill’s provisions. That means that the current December 8th deadline for keeping the Federal government funded will have to be extended – probably for about two weeks.
It’s not just a question of time, however. First, the President ticked off Democrats by telling them they weren’t needed, despite the fact that Democratic votes will be needed to pass a final voting measure. Next, there are difficult negotiations (not involving the President) between those Republicans who want to increase defense spending beyond the limits previously agreed upon by Congress, and Democrats, who want to see a comparable increase in non-defense spending. Just as a personal observation, it’s strange how we can have a bill that increases the deficit by reducing tax revenues, and a spending bill that increases the deficit by increasing spending. Also, there were deals made to pass the tax bill that require provisions to be added to a final spending bill. Good luck if Congress can get this done by December 22nd.
In my Twitter feed today, I’ve tweeted about the Oregon congressional delegation urging the Administration to put more money into dredging that state’s small ports and repairing its jetties. I also retweeted a report on how two melting glaciers could decide the fate of our coastlines. Last week, I tweeted about Moody’s warning cities that it will include climate factors to credit risks. Another tweet focused on Republican efforts to speed repeal of the Obama-era Water of the US Rule in the final spending bill. (Note that not every addition to the funding bill is going to make it easier to pass, including this one.) Finally, I retweeted the report that the President’s pick to run NOAA, Barry Myers, has said that humans are the main cause of climate change. Ain’t that a kick in the pants? Please follow me on Twitter.
I haven’t seen as many new bills introduced dealing with “disasters” as I saw last week. Filed and passed by committee in a matter of days was the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (HR 4460) including provisions from another bill filed just last week, HR 4438, to that FEMA can’t count loans received by disaster victims as if they were grants. Get more information about the bills as introduced as well as some of the changes made in committee by clicking on the links in this sentence. Also introduced last week was the SMART Rebuilding Act (post-disaster), HR 4492, and a bill (S 2165) to provide disaster recovery assistance for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Major legislation on reforms od the National Flood Insurance Program were passed by the House in mid-November (HR 2874). Finally, the FEMA Accountability, Modernization & Accountability Act was signed into law on Nov. 20th.
That’s the news from THE SWAMP. ‘Til next time, don’t spend all your anticipated tax refunds before you get them!!