Capitol to Capitol is NCSL's state-federal newsletter.
Returning from August recess, the Senate will begin its appropriations process amid plans by the Department of Defense to defer funding on $3.6 billion worth of military construction projects to pay for a border security wall. Only 13 working days remain for Congress to enact spending bills to fund the federal government for the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.
The Senate Appropriations Committee will mark up its Labor-Health and Human Service-Education spending bill in subcommittee this week. This will be the first of its 12 fiscal year 2020 spending bills, of which 11 have yet to be introduced in the Senate. According to Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby, the committee also plans to consider defense appropriations and may combine these two largest bills with the Department of Energy and water programs bills to expedite the process.
Meanwhile, House leadership announced it will pass a continuing resolution (CR) to fund government operations at current levels; length of the CR to be determined. Congress will have only 13 days after returning from August recess to pass measures to fund the government for fiscal year 2020 or extend current fiscal year 2019 levels to prevent another government shutdown on Sept. 30. The House passed a nearly $1 trillion spending package in June that contains most of the funding for non-defense programs. However, House appropriators will have to revise this funding, since the enacted two-year budget caps/debt ceiling deal includes $15 billion less than what they originally sought to provide.
NCSL Contact: Erlinda Doherty
Three hundred members of the House and Senate gathered at Federal Hall National Memorial (the original site of the first U.S. capitol), in New York City on Sept. 6, 2002, to mark the anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy. It was the first congressional meeting in New York since 1790. This week we observe the 18th anniversary of 9/11 and honor the lives of those who were lost in New York City, Somerset County, Penn., and at the Pentagon.
After alerting congressional districts last week, the Pentagon released the list of military construction projects located in the U.S. and abroad whose funding would be deferred to make up the $3.6 billion shortfall needed to pay for border security. The gap would be split evenly between projects located domestically—in 23 states and three U.S. territories—and those overseas. While President Donald Trump expects Congress to backfill these accounts with increased appropriations, appropriators have not been supportive of the diversion of funds. Trump declared a national emergency in February, authorizing a diversion of funds from other federal accounts to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Read the list of projects to be affected as released by the Department of Defense Fact Sheet on Section 2808 Funding Pool.
The House is expected to vote this week on three bills to restrict oil and gas drilling, including HR 205, which would permanently extend the moratorium on oil and gas leasing in the eastern Gulf of Mexico; HR 1146, which would once again prohibit oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; and HR 1941, which would bar offshore drilling along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
NCSL Contacts: Ben Husch and Kristen Hildreth
On Aug. 22, the administration announced a new proposed rule to amend 42 CFR Part 2. The existing 42 CFR Part 2 was created to ensure privacy and prevent discrimination of individuals with a substance use disorder but opponents of the regulation say it can create additional barriers to accessing substance use treatment. Congress has also introduced the bipartisan legislation HR 6082, the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act, to also address the barriers created by 42 CFR Part 2.
NCSL Contacts: Haley Nicholson and Margaret Wile
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Marshall Space Flight Center is looking for a new home for its Apollo-era Saturn 1 rocket. Just pay the shipping fee and one lucky person or organization can own a piece of NASA history for free. That fee? A mere $250,000.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) again has pushed back the dates for releasing a number of key rules on drones. A proposed rule on remote ID–drone tracking system–is now expected to be published in December, while a proposed rule on prohibiting drone flights around "critical infrastructure" was pushed from October of this year to September 2020. The FAA has previously said (NCSL Info Alert) it will not finalize its proposed rule on drone flights over people or beyond visual line of sight until it finalizes its remote ID rule.
On Sept. 5, the Department of Energy (DOE) released a final rule withdrawing a rule finalized, but not yet in effect, from the previous administration that added tougher energy efficiency standards for incandescent bulbs. The DOE also proposed a rule that would maintain current lightbulb standards in place because the savings from more efficient incandescent bulbs would not cover the higher cost of the newer bulbs. Colorado, Vermont, Nevada and Washington have passed laws that maintain the high-efficiency lightbulb standards.
Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Transportation sent a letter to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) warning that an agreement the state reached with four automakers concerning vehicle emissions appears to be "unlawful and invalid” and warned of "legal consequences" if the state did not move immediately to "disassociate" CARB from the commitments made by the automakers. In late July, Ford, Volkswagen, Honda and BMW North America agreed with California to reduce their fleetwide emissions by 3.7% per year for model years 2022 to 2026. In response to this agreement, the Justice Department has launched an antitrust investigation into the four auto makers. California, via a Clean Air Act section 209 waiver, has the authority to set its own motor vehicle emissions standards. However, the administration is, based on recent news reports, likely to attempt to withdraw the waiver along with its current proposal to freeze current federal motor vehicle emissions standards. NCSL passed a resolution at its 2019 Legislative Summit opposing the proposed freeze.
The Interior Department distributed more than $170 million in grants for state outdoor recreation and conservation projects under the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The LWCF is funded with revenues from offshore oil and gas drilling used to fund grants for states to preserve and maintain parks, forests and recreation areas, as well as land acquisition. NCSL recently passed a resolution at its 2019 Legislative Summit encouraging Congress to pass the LWCF Permanent Funding Act.
In an ongoing effort to address the increase of opioid abuse and substance use disorder in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced more than $900 million in new funding over three years to states, territories and localities to advance awareness on why opioid overdoses have occurred, and to bolster prevention and response efforts. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has awarded $932 million in fiscal year 2019 to all 50 states as part of its ongoing State Opioid Response grants program. By the end of 2019, the Health and Human Services will have awarded more than $9 billion in grants to states and communities to increase access to treatment and prevention services.
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams issued an advisory about marijuana use to raise awareness on the known and potential affects to developing brains, including in adolescents and pregnant women. The surgeon general’s advisory concludes that no amount of marijuana used by pregnant women or adolescents is known to be safe and this determination cannot be changed until more studies are done to understand its long-term effects.
Read the Aug. 19 Capitol to Capitol.
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NCSL's Washington staff advocate Congress, the White House and federal agencies on behalf of state legislatures 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 policies positions, NCSL is recognized as a formidable lobbying force in state-federal relations.