Tonight’s State of the Union Address: For those of you plan to view the “SOTU” this evening, here’s what to be on the lookout for via Politico.
Infrastructure Initiative: I tweeted the leaked Trump infrastructure plan last week and posted it on WaterLog. Much of the Federal money in the plan are focused in an “Infrastructure Incentives Initiative” that applies to “surface transportation, airports, passenger rail, maritime and inland waterway ports, flood control, water supply, hydropower, water resources, drinking water facilities, storm water facilities, Brownfield and Superfund sites “ The Fed dollars can’t be more than 20% of the project. Then there’s the “Transformative Projects Program” that provides Fed $$$ and technical assistance “for innovative and transformative infrastructure projects based on competitive basis to viable projects unable to secure financing through private sector due to the uniqueness of the program. Applicable projects must be exploratory and ground-breaking ideas that have more risk than standard infrastructure projects but offer a larger reward profile. Covered sectors include: transportation, clean water, drinking water, energy, commercial space, and telecommunications.” The overall plan also includes an expansion of the availability of Private Activity Bonds “ to allow broader categories of public-purpose infrastructure, including reconstruction projects, to take advantage of PABs.”
Personally, I believe it when I see it. Right now, water resources need more Federal money and that can come first and foremost
in the FY19 budget the President will announce in early February (maybe).
Also, the recent WRDA ’18 hearings in Congress (especially on the House side) showed that the Administration and some members
Of Congress are all for the idea of non-Federal sponsors offering up more than their cost-share to make up for inadequate Federal
$$$. The Trump infrastructure plan (so far) looks to incentivize non-Federal spending – You may more and we’ll build it!
Federal Budget: Surprise! Congress didn’t come up with a funding agreement by Jan 19 and the government shut down over the weekend and into Monday. To open the doors again, Congress agreed to – drum roll – kick the can until Feb 8 when they will see if they can come up with an agreement that will hold for the rest of the year. Someone please tell me what the Las Vegas odds are on that and I’ll show you a bet I’m not willing to make. Best case scenario, they reach an agreement on FY18 in time for (maybe) a Feb 13th announcement of the President’s proposed budget for FY19 (starting Oct. 1 2018). And still under best case, the Corps will release its FY18 Work Plan within 60 days after the President has released his FY 19 project earmarks. I don’t even want to think about a worst case scenario because events of the past year on the dark side have outpaced my bad dreams.
White Smoke: The Senate confirmed R.D. James as the new Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works.
Beneficial Use Pilot Projects: Once again, I tweeted and posted on the WaterLog website the just-released Corps guidance for implementing the 10 Beneficial Use Pilot Projects authorized by WRDA ’16. So far, the Corps hasn’t publicized this, but the guidance will be posted in the Federal Register. Once that happens, applicants for selection as a test project will have 30 days to apply! So far, there’s no money to fund any of the projects.
Say Goodbye to Rodney: Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen won’t seek a 13th term. He chairs the House Appropriations Committee and has been a strong supporter of the Federal water resources program. He’s the 8th House Committee Chairman to announce he won’t run again. We’re losing the experienced folks who like to get results!
Money for the Asking: Last time I’ll use this phrase today….I recently tweeted info about NOAA’s Coastal Resilience Grants. Closing date for applications is March 7th. Go here for more info.
But…if you want to stay up on events, please follow me on Twitter. My Hand is HDMarlowe
Finally, Senators Booker and Hoeven have introduced legislation to extend the WIFIA program. More here