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Catherine Treadwell Perry, J.D. Director of Government Relations
|"America is falling behind and the solutions are easy!"
Last Thursday I met with Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D- OR) to discuss a need for an infrastructure package that actually addresses our Nation’s needs and not just a short term fix. This is especially important to ASA members because as an infrastructure package starts moving, ASA Advocacy will be on The Hill ensuring that the PHCP-PVP industry is not left out.
Congress Blumenauer understands the importance of water, buildings, and what goes inside of buildings – like plumbing, heating, and cooling products to be included in an infrastructure package. In fact, Congressman Blumenauer championed the Clean Water Trust Fund which concentrates on repairing America's corroded pipes and overburdened sewer systems, which pose serious health, environmental, and security consequences. A Clean Water Trust Fund will provide a deficit neutral, off-budget and firewalled dedicated revenue source for water infrastructure which will not be subject to the uncertainties of the annual appropriations process.
Circumstances are coming together to force Congress to take action in terms of infrastructure. For example, the Transportation Trust Fund is on life support right now. Congress will have to raise the gas tax, leverage the gas tax, and then replace the gas tax with something substantial. Congress Blumenauer stated, “America is falling behind and the solutions are easy, you cannot tell me we cannot step up!” Congress needs to listen to constituents and realize the need for an investment in infrastructure.
There has been talk on The Hill that Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) who is the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee has an aggressive timeline for an infrastructure package and the goal would be six year bill. However, Congressman Blumenauer stressed that this kind of package does not happen overnight and a short term fix is not ideal. He is pushing for large revenue sources before August recess, so that it will put discussions of such a large package on the right track.
The real question is what can WE do to push Congress take action on infrastructure? I asked the Congressman this exact question and his response was, “That is simple! Talk to your members of Congress- let them know you care about this and encourage co-sponsors for legislation and bills that make sense now, such as The Clean Water Trust Fund.” There you have it folks! Congress needs to hear from YOU!
We will be starting a grass roots effort to make it easy for you to send letters to your members of Congress on the importance of an infrastructure package that addresses the needs of our Nation and ensures that the PHCP-PVP industry is included. Stay tuned for updates on this effort.
- Presidential candidate and former Maryland congressman John Delaney issued a climate change plan that split with many of his Democratic rivals by calling for a carbon tax and dividend, with a tax of $15 per metric ton of carbon dioxide that would increase by $10 annually. His $4 trillion plan also calls for a five-fold increase in clean energy research and a $20 billion pipeline to move captured carbon to other locations for commercial use. (Washington Examiner)
- President Donald Trump ordered U.S. intelligence agencies to "quickly and fully cooperate" with Attorney General William Barr's probe into the origins of the investigation about whether his 2016 campaign colluded with Russia, giving Barr the "full and complete authority" to declassify documents. Declassifications could create tensions with the intelligence community, which has resisted such demands in the past. (The Associated Press)
- House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said special counsel Robert Mueller is willing to testify to his committee, but wants to do so privately. Nadler said the public would get a transcript of Mueller's testimony if the committee proceeds with a behind-closed-doors session about his report on Russia and potential obstruction of justice by Trump. (NBC News)
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) questioned Trump's fitness for office, suggesting that those close him stage an "intervention" for the good of the nation. And amid talk from rank-and-file Democrats about impeaching Trump, Pelosi said the White House is "crying out" them to launch the process, seeing them as a political win with the likelihood that he would be acquitted in the Republican-controlled Senate. (The Associated Press)
- Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) released a sweeping health care package broadly aimed at reducing the cost of health care, with bills to eliminate surprise medical bills, reduce drug prices and improve price transparency, among other things. The bipartisan pair of senators, at the helm of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, offered a new strategy to combat surprise bills - an "in-network guarantee," requiring any hospital seeking inclusion as an in-network facility for a health plan to promise that all of their employees are also in-network. (NPR News)
- President Donald Trump is expected to issue an executive order as soon as next week requiring the health care industry to disclose prices, according to sources close to the issue, as administration officials meet at the White House today to iron out the details. After months of strategizing, the order is expected to focus on curbing monopolization within the industry and mandating the release of data on costs and negotiated rates between payers and providers - enforced by federal agencies such as the Justice Department, the sources said. (The Wall Street Journal)
- The Environmental Protection Agency intends to issue narrower changes to the biofuel credit market to coincide with the June 1 expansion of E15 ethanol, after agency staff determined that more analysis is needed in order to act on some of its earlier draft plan, according to four sources briefed on the matter. Three sources said that the less-ambitious regulation will focus on market transparency and addressing the hoarding of the biofuel traded credit. (Reuters)
- The Senate voted 85-8 to pass a $19.1 billion disaster spending bill, which President Donald Trump suggested he supports despite the measure's lack of funding for the U.S.-Mexico border. A senior House Democratic aide said that chamber leaders hope to approve the bill by unanimous consent on Friday, but an objection by any member will push House approval to more than a week from now, when lawmakers return from Memorial Day recess. (The Washington Post)
- The Trump administration has proposed an anti-subsidy tariff on goods from countries found by the Treasury Department to be devaluing their currency for competitive reasons, according to a Federal Register notice, although no country would currently qualify. The proposal, which would allow Treasury to determine whether currency manipulation has taken place in China, has been advocated by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and White House trade adviser Peter Navarro since early in President Donald Trump's term, according to people familiar with the administration's internal deliberations. (Bloomberg)
- President Donald Trump will announce a $16 billion aid package for farmers to compensate losses caused by trade tensions between the United States and China, according to sources. The bailout marks the second in two years as his administration tries to contain the damage from China's retaliatory tariffs. (Financial Times)
- Vice President Mike Pence is pressing Trump to send his new North American trade deal to the House of Representatives, triggering a procedural clock that would force House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) into a decision.
- Legislation that would substantially alter the U.S. retirement system by making it easier for employers to offer retirement savings plans and include annuities passed the House with a vote of 417-3 and backing from Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. The bill, which according to a Senate GOP aide will be voted on by the upper chamber instead of its own version, would repeal the age cap for making contributions to traditional individual retirement accounts, which is currently set at 70 1/2, and would boost the age to take required withdrawals to 72 from 70 1/2. (The Wall Street Journal)
- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has introduced a bill that would impose a 0.5 percent tax rate on stock trades, a 0.1 percent tax rate on bond trades and 0.005 percent on derivatives transactions, a move he said would generate as much as $2.4 trillion in a decade and discourage high-frequency trading. The tax, which has little chance of passing Congress but signals Sanders' 2020 presidential campaign priorities, could offset the cost of tuition-free college and help reduce student debt, he said. (Bloomberg)
- The House and Senate are in recess.
- ASA Advocacy will be meeting with Congressman Colin Allred (D-TX) to discuss the DRIVE Safe Act on Wednesday.
- ASA Advocacy will be attending a LIFO Coalition meeting.
- Friday ASA Advocacy will be attending a meeting at the White House with PHCC pertaining to infrastructure.
| || NEWS FROM STATE AND LOCAL |
Update on State Bills Being Tracked
Illinois (HB 3427) Water Heater Safety Valve Act - Creates the Water Heater Safety Valve Act. Provides that a manufacturer or supplier of a hot water heater for use in a residential home or facility must supply or attach a temperature mixing valve or other safety valve to the hot water heater or tank that prevents water with a temperature above 130°F from coming from any faucet or other source of water into direct contact with a person. Bill considered by Public Health Committee and was returned for further discussion to resolve stakeholder concerns. ASA is participating in the discussions.
Nevada (AB163): Revises provisions governing water conservation. (BDR 48-798) has had recent activity: Senate Amendment No. 682 concurred in. To enrollment. This bill was passed but has gone through an amendment phase which will allow, when a WaterSense requirement is updated, for a 12 month grace period for products to be certified to the new requirements.
New State Activity
Pennsylvania (HB 1488) - An Act amending the act of March 4, 1971 (P.L.6, No.2), known as the Tax Reform Code of 1971, providing for the High-Performance Buildings Tax Credit.
The Wall Street Journal
President Trump said he wouldn’t work with Democrats while investigations of him continue and abruptly ended a meeting with the party’s leaders Wednesday, casting fresh doubt on a divided Washington’s ability to complete big-ticket legislation in the next 18 months.
The morning began with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) accusing the Republican president of engaging in a “coverup” as she fended off a rising chorus of Democrats calling for Mr. Trump’s impeachment.
A key House committee on Wednesday advanced the 2020 budgets for the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), voting to increase their funding by $1.73 billion over last year.
The Democratic-led House Appropriations Committee voted 30-21 along party lines to push forward $37.28 billion in funds for the two agencies. It was an increase of $7.24 billion over President Trump’s 2020 requests, which included deep proposed cuts for both agencies.
The Wall Street Journal
Americans could see the most significant changes in more than a decade to their retirement plans under legislation the House of Representatives passed Thursday, with measures designed to make it easier for employers to offer 401(k)-type accounts and for participants to convert their balances into a steady lifetime income.
Lawmakers have been discussing many of the retirement changes for years, with a significant portion of the U.S.’s burgeoning community of retirees at risk of outliving their money.
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