CSAC Bulletin Article

Federal Issues Update

May 24, 2018

House Farm Bill to be Revived in June; FY19 Appropriations Measures Underway

There was a flurry of activity on Capitol Hill the week of May 21 as lawmakers scrambled to make progress on a number of pending issues before departing for the week-long Memorial Day recess. In the wake of last week’s defeat on the Farm Bill, House Republican leaders announced on Monday that their reauthorization package (HR 2) will be brought back to the floor for a vote the third week in June.

While there were several areas of contention on the Farm Bill – including disagreements over provisions designed to restrict eligibility for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits – a number of Republicans voted against the measure due to their ongoing frustration with a lack of action on unrelated immigration legislation. All told, 30 Republicans joined with every House Democrats to defeat the Farm Bill.

With regard to SNAP, HR 2 would require all able bodied adults – unless there are children under age six in the household – to be engaged in at least 20 hours of work or work-related activities each week in order to remain eligible for SNAP. The requirement would be effective after the first month of receiving benefits.

The bill also would restrict categorical eligibility to only those individuals receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance or other TANF supports, such as child care. Currently, there are other ways of becoming eligible for SNAP, such as receiving benefits from a state assistance program or Supplemental Security Income. Additionally, the proposal would effectively eliminate the use of the standard utility disallowance and instead would require SNAP participants to submit utility bills and would count any Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program benefits when determining SNAP benefits. Given the focus on work, the legislation would nearly triple the amount of funding for SNAP Employment and Training programs.

It should be noted that GOP House leaders are planning to hold votes on an immigration reform package (HR 4760) during the same week that the chamber will be reconsidering the Farm Bill.

WRDA Reauthorization

The Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee approved on May 22 a bipartisan water infrastructure bill (S 2800). The legislation, entitled America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, would authorize a host of flood control, navigation, ecosystem restoration, and other water resources projects under the purview of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

In addition to specific project authorizations, the measure would revamp the process by which the Corps’ prepares its budget. Under the bill, the Corps would be required to submit to Congress on an annual basis a five-year budget that includes a work plan for the current fiscal year and a proposed budget for the subsequent four-year period. While Corps headquarters would be responsible for submitting a budget that addresses projects and initiatives of national significance, each district office would be required to provide a plan for projects of regional, tribal, and local significance.

S 2800 also includes provisions designed to increase local and non-federal stakeholder input in the Corps’ budgeting process. Additionally, the measure would change cost-sharing rules to allow a state, local government, or private entity that splits the cost of an Army Corps project to be entitled to a partial reimbursement of their contribution if the project comes in under budget.

While the majority of provisions in the Senate’s water infrastructure bill pertain to the Corps, the legislation also would make modifications to several key programs that are administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). For example, the bill would expand authorized activities under the Safe Drinking Water Act State Revolving Loan Fund (SRF) to allow states to use up to 10 percent of their SRF capitalization grants to implement source water protection plans.

Additionally, S 2800 would reauthorize the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA). Specifically, the measure would extend the authorization for the WIFIA program – which provides long-term, low-cost supplemental loans for regionally and nationally significant water infrastructure projects – at $100 million annually for fiscal years 2020 and 2021. Authorized by Congress in 2014, EPA issued its first-ever WIFIA loan earlier this year.

The bill also would authorize two key WIFIA studies. The first study, which would be conducted by the Corps, would require the Secretary of the Army to submit a report to Congress on WIFIA implementation impediments. To date, the Corps’ WIFIA program has no published guidance and lawmakers have not appropriated any money for the Corps to launch the program. The study also would need to identify all projects that the secretary determines are potentially viable to receive assistance, as well as identify any legislative amendments or regulatory changes that would improve the secretary’s ability to implement the program.

The second study, to be completed by the Government Accountability Office, would examine WIFIA projects in small, rural, disadvantaged, and tribal communities. Specifically, the study would need to focus on how EPA can create flexibility under WIFIA for the aforementioned entities, including ways to improve access to assistance under the program.

Across Capitol Hill, the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee passed its own bipartisan WRDA reauthorization legislation on May 23. The bill (HR 8) is more of a traditional project authorization measure and does not include the budget reforms or other policy provisions found in the Senate legislation.

The House measure does include a section requiring the secretary of the Army to enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences to convene a committee of experts to carry out a comprehensive study on the potential effects of moving the Army Corps’ civil works function from the Department of Defense (DoD) to a new or existing agency or sub-agency of the federal government. While there is interest among members of Congress in moving the Corps out from under the purview of the DoD, the Pentagon is not in favor of such a move.

TANF Reauthorization

Late last week, Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee introduced a TANF reauthorization bill. The legislation, entitled the Jobs and Opportunity with Benefits and Services (JOBS) for Success Act of 2018 (HR 5861), was approved along party lines by the full committee on May 23.

A previously released draft version of the bill included a modified TANF allocation formula that, if approved, would have cut the federal allocation to CalWORKs by 11 percent. After receiving pushback from CSAC and other key California stakeholders, Republicans agreed to drop the provision.

As introduced, HR 5861 would abolish the current process for determining state and county Work Participation Rates (WPR). In its place, the bill would introduce a system that calculates WPRs based on Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) outcome metrics. The measure also would expand the definition of TANF work activities, including allowing individuals to count as work time spent in vocational education for more than 12 months. Additionally, states, upon HHS approval, would be allowed to tap their TANF block grants in order to fund other work activities if the state were to deem the activities to be necessary to move individuals into economic independence.

FY 2019 Appropriations

House appropriators have successfully cleared six (of 12) spending measures – the Transportation-Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD), Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS), Energy-Water (E&W), Agriculture, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction bills. In addition, the panel’s Interior and Environment Subcommittee has approved its funding measure for fiscal year 2019. Across Capitol Hill, only two measures – E&W and Agriculture – have been approved at the subcommittee level. To follow is a summary of the recently approved House bills with highlights of key county programs.


On May 23, the House Appropriations Committee approved its fiscal year 2019 Transportation-Housing and Urban Development (HUD) spending measure by a vote of 34 to 17. In total, the legislation reflects an allocation of $71.8 billion in discretionary spending – $1.5 billion more than the fiscal year 2018 enacted level and $23.8 billion above the Trump administration’s budget request.

Pursuant to the spending package, $46 billion from the Highway Trust Fund would be available for the Federal-aid Highway program, which is $1 billion above the fiscal year 2018 level and on par with the funding authorized by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. In addition, the bill would provide an extra $4.25 billion in discretionary highway funding – a total increase of $2.76 billion for roads and bridges over current spending.

The measure also would provide $750 million for the multimodal BUILD program (formerly known as TIGER grants), or a 50 percent cut in funding. The bill includes language to ensure a balanced allocation of BUILD program funding among rural, suburban, and urban areas; of the total investment, $250 million would be set aside for port projects.

With regard to community planning and development, the measure includes $7.6 billion for various HUD activities and programs, or $115 million below the fiscal year 2018 enacted level. The bill would fund the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program at $3.3 billion, equal to the fiscal year 2018 spending level. Additionally, the legislation would provide $1.2 billion for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, which represents a $162 million cut.

Homeless Assistance Grants would be slated for an increase under the House bill, with the program receiving $2.5 billion (+$33 million). The measure includes language targeting the funding to address geographic areas that have seen an increase in homelessness and to provide assistance to victims of domestic violence.

(Note: The numbers in the following charts are in millions of dollars.)



FY 2019




Discretionary Spending







FY 2019




Federal Highway Program (Highway Trust Fund)




Highway Infrastructure (Discretionary)




BUILD Program Grants (formerly TIGER Grants)




Capital Investment Grants




Transit Formula Grants



Transit Infrastructure (Discretionary)




Airport Improvement Program



Additional Infrastructure Grants for Airports




Essential Air Services Program (Discretionary)




Small Community Air Service Development Program (SCASDP)






FY 2019




Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)



HOME Investment Partnerships Program




Choice Neighborhoods Initiative



Homeless Assistance Grants




Energy and Water

On May 16, the House Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal year 2019 Energy and Water spending bill. The legislation funds the Department of Energy, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation, and several independent agencies.

The measure would provide $44.7 billion in fiscal year 2019, or $1.5 billion above the fiscal year 2018 enacted level and $8.2 billion above President Trump’s budget blueprint. Notably, the Army Corps would see its budget increase by over $450 million, while an additional $75 million would be available for the Bureau of Reclamation.

In addition, the bill includes $134 million for water storage projects authorized in the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act. With regard to California, the federal funds could be used for the following projects: design and pre-construction work on the Shasta Reservoir project; feasibility study completions for the Sites Reservoir and the Temperance Flat Reservoir; and, initiation of a feasibility study to address subsidence on the Friant Kern Canal.



FY 2019



Discretionary Funding




U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)




USACE Investigations




USACE – Construction




USACE – Operations & Maintenance




Bureau of Reclamation – Water & Related Resources




Water Storage Projects



CALFED Bay-Delta Restoration




Central Valley Project Restoration Fund




Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy




Weatherization Assistance Program





The House Appropriations Committee approved its fiscal year 2019 Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) spending bill on May 17. The legislation would provide $62.5 billion in total discretionary funding for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, NASA, and related agencies. The proposed investment represents a $2.9 billion increase over fiscal year 2018.

With regard to state and local law enforcement and criminal justice grant programs, the legislation would provide $2.9 billion, or roughly level funding. Within the aforementioned total, the CJS bill includes $255 million for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP), an increase of $15 million. If enacted, the funding boost would build upon the $30 million increase that SCAAP received in the current fiscal year 2018.

In addition, the legislation would increase funding for the Byrne-Justice Assistance Grant program (+26 million) and the Violence Against Women Act (+$1 million). The bill would provide level funding ($225.5 million) for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program; within the COPS account, the bill specifies several carve outs, the effect of which would reduce the amount of funding available for core hiring grants.

With regard to the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), the legislation would provide $2.6 billion for victim services programs authorized under the law. The proposed funding level represents a $1.8 billion reduction when compared to the FY18 omnibus, which set the VOCA cap at an all-time high of $4.4 billion. It should be noted that the House bill’s funding level for VOCA is more on par with the FY17 enacted budget (and is $300 million more than the amount recommended by the Trump administration in its budget proposal).

In addition, the panel adopted an amendment offered by Congressman David Joyce (R-OH) that would prohibit federal funding from being used to prosecute individuals or businesses acting in compliance with state-legal medical cannabis laws. While the language, often referred to as the Rohrabacher-Farr rider, has been included in previous spending bills dating back to fiscal year 2015, this is the first time it has ever been offered and accepted during committee consideration. Appropriators also approved an amendment offered by Congressman Andy Harris (R-MD) that would urge the Drug Enforcement Administration to expeditiously process medical marijuana research applications.

It should be noted that the full committee rejected an amendment offered by Congressman Jose Serrano (D-NY) that would block the Census Bureau’s controversial question regarding citizenship. For their part, Democrats have expressed concern that the question will depress response rates and result in an undercount of the population. Such an outcome would impact federal grant programs that are distributed based on population. It could also skew the number of congressional seats each state is allotted in future elections. Representative Serrano has indicated that he will offer the amendment during consideration on the House floor, although Republicans on the Rules Committee could block its consideration.



FY 2019



Discretionary Funding




State & Local Law Enforcement Grants




State Criminal Alien Assistance Program




Violence Against Women Act




Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Activities




Victims of Crime Act




Victims of Trafficking Grants




Community Oriented Policing Services



Byrne-Justice Assistance Grants




Offender Reentry Programs/Second Chanced Act Grants



Juvenile Justice Programs




Economic Development Assistance




The Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee approved its fiscal year 2019 spending bill on May 15. All told, the legislation would provide nearly $35.3 billion in funding for the Department of the Interior (excluding the Bureau of Reclamation), the Environmental Protection Agency, and a number of related agencies. The proposed spending is on par with the fiscal year 2018 enacted level.

Among other things, the bill would provide over $1.5 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and $1 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund, a cut of $150 million to each program. The measure also includes $75 million for the WIFIA program, or an increase of $12 million when compared to current spending.

In addition to providing funds for departmental operations, the legislation contains several policy add-ons (known as appropriations riders). Most notably, the spending bill includes language that would insulate the California WaterFix project from federal or state legal challenges. Notably, the WaterFix provision would not only preclude state and federal judicial review of the final Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement, the language would shield the forthcoming Record of Decision – as well as any other agency decision or downstream determination – from the threat of litigation.


FY 2018




Discretionary Funding





FY 2018




Clean Water State Revolving Fund




Drinking Water State Revolving Fund




Diesel Emissions Reduction Grants




Targeted Airshed Grants




State & Local Air Quality Management Grants



WIFIA Program




Brownfields Program





FY 2018




Payments-in-lieu-of-Taxes (PILT)




Wildland Fire Management (FS)




Wildland Fire Management (DOI)




Total – Fire Management




Fire Suppression (FS)




Additional Suppression Funding (FS)



Fire Suppression (DOI)



Total – Fire Suppression




Fire Preparedness (FS)




Fire Preparedness (DOI)



Total – Fire Preparedness




Fuels Management (FS)




Fuels Management (DOI)




Total – Fuels Management




Forest Health Management




Burned Area Rehabilitation



Illegal Marijuana Cultivation Remediation



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