Capitol to Capitol | Oct. 18, 2021

10/18/2021

USDOT Checks In With NCSL’s Natural Resources and Infrastructure Committee

At the end of September, members of NCSL’s Natural Resources and Infrastructure (NRI) Committee met online with Department of Transportation (DOT) Deputy Assistant Secretary Charles Small. As the meeting was held the day before an expected vote on the Senate infrastructure bill, most of the conversation revolved around the hundreds of billions of dollars states would receive as part of that measure. Though a vote was ultimately not taken, the conversation gave committee members a chance to ask questions and highlight for the DOT what programs were of specific interest, including a new competitive rural ferry grant program and federal highway funds for states. It also led to several follow-up conversations on some of the new grant programs in the bill, with NRI committee members looking to learn more, allowing them to get a head start on the application process. The bill is likely to receive a vote before Congress’ winter break.

NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth

Treasury Releases Highlights From Recovery Plan Performance Reports

While Treasury is processing initial reports submitted on Aug. 31 from state, local, territorial and tribal government recipients of the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, the department released highlights from the Recovery Plan Performance Reports last week. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Erlinda Doherty and Patrick Lawler

Department of Education Requests Comment on Maintenance of Equity, Updates Guidance 

The public can submit comments on the implementation of the maintenance of equity provision in the American Rescue Plan Act through Nov. 4. The department also released updated maintenance of equity guidance, which provides additional flexibilities to states with small school districts. Read more here for the updated guidance and here to provide comment on the provision’s implementation. 

NCSL Contacts: Austin Reid and Patrick Lawler

Department of Education Announces Changes to Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program 

Among the many changes, the department is offering a limited Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program waiver that allows all payments by student borrowers to count toward PSLF, regardless of loan program or payment plan. The department also committed to reviewing denied PSLF applications for errors and giving borrowers the ability to have their denials reconsidered. Additionally, active-duty service members will automatically receive credit and can count deferments and forbearances toward PSLF. Read more.

NCSL Contacts: Austin Reid and Patrick Lawler

HHS Announces Availability of Funds to Support State-Run Programs for Primary Care Clinicians 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the availability of $100 million for state-run programs that “support, recruit and retain primary care clinicians who live and work in underserved communities.” This funding, made available through the American Rescue Plan Act, represents a five-fold increase to the State Loan Repayment Program. Read more.

NCSL Contact: Molly Ramsdell

Congress Passes Short-Term Fix to Address Debt Ceiling

President Joe Biden signed a bill on Oct. 14 delaying the debt ceiling deadline until December while adding $480 billion to the debt limit. Treasury Department officials believe the amount will allow the federal government to pay its debt obligations, which have now increased to $28.9 trillion, and continue borrowing money until Dec. 3. As this is only a short-term fix, Congress will have to address this issue before the new deadline.

NCSL Contacts: Erlinda Doherty and Patrick Lawler

The Nation’s Premier Bipartisan Event for State Legislatures Is Two Weeks Away!

More than 2,500 of your colleagues are registered for the 2021 NCSL Legislative Summit. Don’t miss this opportunity to join them at this exclusive convening where legislators and legislative staff reconnect, innovate and prepare for the year ahead. Reserve your spot today for the NCSL Legislative Summit in Tampa, Fla., Nov. 3-5!

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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
  • 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
  • Austin Reid | 202-624-8678 | Education
  • Tres York | 202-624-8686 | Commerce and Financial Services