Capitol to Capitol | Aug. 30, 2021


House Adopts $3.5 Trillion Budget, Congress Returns Mid-September to Continue Work

The House adopted a fiscal year 2022 $3.5 trillion budget resolution last week that is expected to clear the path for a filibuster-proof budget reconciliation package. The Senate passed its version of the measure earlier this month. With a deadline set for Sept. 15, both the House and the Senate budget committees must now craft the actual language that will authorize and pay for the proposals. The House also included a provision requiring consideration, but, importantly, not a final vote, on the Senate’s infrastructure bill no later than Sept. 27.

In addition to meeting the non-binding deadline for developing budget reconciliation legislation, Congress, upon returning, must also: stave off a potential shutdown when the fiscal year ends Sept. 30; raise or suspend the debt ceiling before it’s breached, potentially as soon as October; deal with pandemic-related programs that expire in September, including additional unemployment aid, increased Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits and the eviction moratorium; and address several tax-extenders for energy and mortgage insurance premiums, which expires by the end of the year.

NCSL Contacts: Erlinda Doherty (budgets and revenue)  Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth (infrastructure)

Treasury Issues Additional Policies to Expedite Distribution of Emergency Rental Assistance

On Aug. 25, the Department of Treasury issued further guidance through a blog post that aims to expedite the distribution of the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA). An updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page for the ERA program highlights additional policies designed to encourage state and local governments to deliver those rental assistance funds more readily to eligible households. The FAQ page lists seven additional policies meant to provide more flexibility to states, including further guidance on self-attestation for households at risk for eviction and homelessness.

NCSL Contacts: Jon Jukuri and Deanna Ross

EPA and USACE Issue Memorandum on Implementation of Section 401 of Clean Water Act

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a joint memorandum concerning the implementation of Section 401 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) restoring many powers statutorily granted to states by Congress that were previously undone by the agencies in 2020. States and tribes have historically been provided with the well-established authority to review and approve, condition or deny any required federal permits or licenses for projects that would discharge pollutants into a water of the United States under CWA Section 401. However, the EPA’s 2020 rulemaking affecting the implementation of Section 401 of the CWA placed significant new limits on state authority and autonomy to manage and protect water resources. The EPA issued a notice of intent to reconsider and revise the 2020 rule. Read NCSL’s comments here.  Read the memorandum here.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

Vaccination Requirements for Nursing Home Staff

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are developing an emergency regulation that will require staff vaccinations at more than 15,000 nursing homes that participate in Medicare and Medicaid. Currently, about 62% of nursing home staff nationally are vaccinated as of Aug. 8, with staff vacation levels ranging from 88% to 44%. This past May, the CMS issued new regulations for long-term care facilities and intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities to educate residents, clients and staff about the COVID-19 vaccinations. Read more.

NCSL Contact: Haley Nicholson

Telehealth Investments Announced

The administration announced that $19 million will be distributed to 36 recipients nationwide to strengthen telehealth. Funding will focus on rural and underserved communities and will help expand telehealth innovation and quality. Read more.

NCSL Contact: Haley Nicholson

Registration Open for State and Local Legal Center Webinars

Supreme Court Elections Cases

This webinar will explore two recently decided SCOTUS elections cases. In Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, SCOTUS upheld two Arizona voting requirements, which the Democratic National Convention argued had a disparate impact on non-white voters in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Importantly, the court applied several factors that will apply in future cases. Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta isn’t obviously an elections case. The court held California violated the First Amendment by requiring charitable organizations to disclose their major donors to the state attorney general. In dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote the court’s decision “marks reporting and disclosure requirements with a bull’s-eye.” Discuss what these decisions mean for state legislatures with Jessica Ring Amunson, Jenner & Block, and Erin Murphy, Kirkland & Ellis. Susan Parnas Frederick, NCSL, will discuss proposed federal legislation related to voting rights.

Supreme Court Elections Cases | Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021 | 2 p.m. ET/ 1 p.m. CT/ Noon MT/ 11 a.m. PT

Register here

This event is in partnership with NCSL.

Supreme Court and the States: A Focus on Administrative and Environmental Law in the Prior Term and Trends to Come

Much of modern administrative and environmental law rests on longstanding precedent out of SCOTUS. States have long relied on these doctrines to protect their rights. Now, with changes in both the presidency and the court, much hangs in the balance. Join state solicitors general on Monday, Sept. 13, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. ET for a conversation about last term’s cases and the upcoming ones on the court’s docket, and the potential impact that the cases could have on states

Supreme Court and the States: A Focus on Administrative and Environmental Law in the Prior Term and Trends to Come | Sept 13, 2021 | 12:30 p.m. ET

Register here

This event is in partnership with the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center.

SLLC Supreme Court Preview

While the abortion and guns cases will very likely put the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2021-22 term in the history books, the court has agreed to hear many cases of interest to states and local governments. On the docket already are three First Amendment cases, including a sign case, a board member censure case and a school choice case; a Medicaid case; and an “unreasonable seizure pursuant to legal process” case. Join Sarah Harris, Williams & Connolly, merits counsel in a case involving the Rehabilitation Act; Rick Simpson, Wiley, SLLC amicus brief writer in another case involving the Rehabilitation Act; and Ken Jost, author of “Supreme Court Yearbook” and “Jost on Justice;” discuss the most important cases SCOTUS is planning to decide so far this upcoming term for states and local governments.

SLLC Supreme Court Preview | Sept. 15, 2021 | 1 p.m. /ET

Register here

NCSL Contact: Susan Frederick (U.S. Supreme Court) and Lisa Soronen executive director, State and Local Legal Center

In Every Edition

Read the Aug. 23 Capitol to Capitol.

NCSL's Advocacy in Washington

NCSL’s Washington staff advocates on behalf of state legislatures before Congress, the White House and federal agencies in accord with the policy directives and resolutions that are recommended by the NCSL Standing Committees and adopted by the full conference at the annual NCSL Legislative Summit Business Meeting. As a result of the advocacy that is guided by these policy positions, NCSL is recognized as a formidable lobbying force in state-federal relations.

NCSL Staff in Washington, D.C.

  • Molly Ramsdell | 202-624-3584 | Director
  • Erlinda Doherty | 202-624-8698 | Budgets and Revenue
  • Susan Frederick | 202-624-3566 | Law, Criminal Justice, and Public Safety
  • Abbie Gruwell 202-624-3569 | Commerce and Financial Services
  • Ben Husch | 202-624-7779 | Natural Resources and Infrastructure 
  • Kristen Hildreth | 202-624-3597 | Natural Resources and Infrastructure 
  • Jon Jukuri  | 202-624-8663 | Labor, Economic Development and International Trade
  • Haley Nicholson | 202-624-8662 | Health and Human Services
  • Austin Reid | 202-624-8678 | Education