The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (NDAA, H.R. 2810) passed the House (356-70) and Senate (by voice vote) this week. The 21st Century Flood Reform Act (H.R. 2874) passed the House (237-189). Activities of the U.S. military, ranging from understanding our ocean and providing disaster relief to enforcing laws and providing medical assistance, are authorized each year by the NDAA. Many provisions relate to the safety and security of our nation and our military, making this a must-pass bill that has been passed 55 years in a row.
The Congressional Estuary Caucus Co-Chairs, Representatives Bill Posey (FL-8), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1), Frank LoBiondo (NJ-2), and Rick Larsen (WA-2), hosted a briefing, “Natural Infrastructure 101: What are living shorelines and how do they protect coastal communities?” More than half of the U.S. population lives in coastal areas. Urban development has contributed to the destruction of shoreline ecosystems, such as wetlands, marshes, mangroves, and coral reefs.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and partners, in conjunction with Senators Shelley Moore Capito (WV) and Bill Nelson (FL) hosted a briefing, “How Science Supports Flood Forecasting and Public Safety.”
President Trump signed an executive order Tuesday that he said would streamline the approval process for building infrastructure such as roads, bridges and offices by eliminating a planning step related to climate change and flood dangers. Speaking in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, Trump said that the approval process for projects was “badly broken” and that the nation’s infrastructure was a “massive self-inflicted wound on our country.” Trump said that “no longer” would there be “one job-killing delay after another” for new projects. But he did not provide any proposal on how his much-promised infrastructure program would be financed or what it would include.
Nothing in COL’s legislative tracker was signed into law this month, but several items did pass out of committee, the House, or the Senate. Notably, the Save Our Seas Act of 2017 (S.756) passed the Senate with unanimous consent last week. The legislation (and its counterpart in the House (H.R. 2748)) reauthorizes and amends the Marine Debris Act (P.L. 109-332) “to promote international action to reduce marine debris.”
The nation’s water infrastructure is in a truly dire state; with a D+ grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers, it is time for an update. Last week, the House and Senate held hearings to address this issue. The House Transportation Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment focused on the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). Chairman Garret Graves (LA-6) said the Corps has an “absolutely critical mission,” which centers around building and maintaining infrastructure that bolsters the economy while integrating environmental sustainability. However, both sides of the aisle were concerned with the Corps’ backlog of unfinished projects and lack of implementation guidance for the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (P.L.113-121) and the Water Resources Development Act of 2016.
After much debate, five flood insurance bills were approved (three with bipartisan support) on Wednesday afternoon at a markup held by the House Financial Services Committee. The bills are part of a package to reauthorize and reform the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is $24.6 billion in debt and whose current authorization expires September 30. While Republicans and Democrats on the committee have a shared goal of reducing this debt, Democrats withheld support for some of the bills over concerns that the they would raise premiums for policyholders and leave citizens uninsured.
Brock Long was cleared by the Senate to become President Donald Trump’s emergency-management director Tuesday after gaining the support of one unlikely constituency: environmentalists. While climate advocates panned Trump’s selections to head the Environmental Protection Agency and Energy Department, they expressed optimism that Long, Alabama’s former emergency manager, would seek to protect Americans from the increased risks of hurricanes, flood and heat waves linked to global warming.
After a recent series of severe storms over several years resulted in $24.6 billion of debt, Democrats and Republicans agreed that the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) could be improved before reauthorization. They disagreed, however, on how to make that happen.
Red Snapper And Proposed Budget Cuts Snap Attention Of Senators During Appropriations Committee Hearing
The Department of Commerce (DOC) touches your life in more ways than you’d imagine, impacting areas from trade to economic development to weather forecasting. On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science held a hearing to discuss the president’s budget recommendations for the DOC for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. Senators from both sides of the aisle were concerned with the proposed steep cuts, which represent a 15.8 percent decrease from FY 2017 enacted levels and highlighted programs, including Sea Grant, that have tremendous returns on investment for their states.
If there was one thing Republicans and Democrats easily agreed on this week, it’s that being $24.6 billion in debt is no way to operate. In a hearing preparing for the reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program, legislators on the House Financial Services Committee proposed changes to the program to help it gain sounder financial ground.
When a snowstorm closed airports across the northeast last week, two congressmen stranded in Texas devised a creative travel scheme, opting for a cross-country road trip to D.C. instead of waiting for airports to reopen. While their adventure received significant attention, the subject of natural disasters was also receiving attention in several congressional hearings. In the House and Senate, hearings focused specifically on flood insurance, and members of the Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Subcommittee of House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held a hearing to discuss the future of the National Preparedness System (NPS).