Congress Starts Process on Developing Fourth Stimulus Package
On April 1, the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) held a press conference to announce House Democrats’ plan to draft a fourth COVID-19 assistance package. The Speaker stressed the need to not only address the immediate public health and economic needs exposed by this crisis, but also the need to “lay the foundation for a strong recovery.” Central to this will be “to take bold action to renew America’s infrastructure,” she noted. She explained that the fourth package’s infrastructure investment would build upon the House Democrats’ Moving Forward Framework that was released earlier this year, and outlined an expansive infrastructure investment proposal. On March 31, President Trump publicly stated his priority that the next package to focus on infrastructure investment.
However, late Friday, the Speaker seemed to revise her priority, placing a new priority to expand economic stabilization programs that formed the recently enacted CARES Act and address infrastructure following any second CARES Act measure. This shift in focus could include providing additional financial aid to state and local governments, expanding assistance for small businesses, increasing unemployment benefits, and delivering a second round of direct-cash payments for Americans.
Even with the prospect of a slight delay in legislative action, the infrastructure priorities outlined at the Speaker’s press conference clearly made investment in clean water infrastructure the priority. Pelosi stressed the critical roles that wastewater, drinking water, and clean water infrastructure play in the efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19. Specifically, clean water investment priorities would include:
- Protecting Americans’ drinking water – particularly for vulnerable communities – by investing in the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and programs to ensure clean drinking water in schools, day care centers and on Native American Reservations.
- Funding building new, modern clean water and wastewater infrastructure by investing $40 billion in the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF), to address local water quality challenges, with dedicated funds for urban and rural communities with affordability concerns.
- Establishing a new Low-Income Household Drinking Water and Wastewater Assistance program where States (including U.S. Territories) and Indian Tribes can receive Federal grants to assist low-income households in paying their drinking water and wastewater utility bills during public health emergencies.