Your Congress in Action: Vol. 7

06/26/2020 1:23 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

Your Congress in Action is a series that highlights the Capitol Hill news that affects CRM firms the most. This information is sourced from the Coalition for American Heritage, news articles, and more. Be sure to subscribe to the ACRAsphere to ensure you don't miss an update.

  • Representatives of several professional organizations and the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs met to discuss the proposed changes to the NEPA regulations. The Administration is aware that Congress could use the Congressional Review Act to roll back the new regulations put in place at the very end of the Administration, so timing is critical for them. We anticipate that a finalized version of the regulations will be issued within 45 to 60 days while Congress is not in session. The Administration is still required to to follow Administrative Procedure Act and address all comments. ACRA expects lawsuits to be filed by various groups once the revised regulations are issued.
  • The revised National Register for Historic Places (NHRP) regulations are moving along within the National Park Service. Expect to see these issued within the next 45 to 60 days, similar to the revised NEPA regulations.

  • As discussions surrounding social justice and heritage continue on Capitol Hill, the Coalition for American Heritage is working to raise the profile of the African-American Burial Grounds bill and several grant programs within the Historic Preservation Fund aimed at minorities, such as funds for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

  • The House marked up its infrastructure bill, the Moving Forward Act (H.R. 2), and plans to pass it before the July 4 recess. The bill provides $1.5 trillion in funding for infrastructure projects. From the fact sheet:

    H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, is a more than $1.5 trillion plan to rebuild American infrastructure—not only our roads, bridges, and transit systems, but also our schools, housing, broadband access, and so much more. By investing in families, workers, and communities across the country, we can support American manufacturing and ingenuity and create millions of jobs that cannot be exported, all while putting our country on a path toward zero carbon emissions, making communities and roads safer, and addressing long-standing disparities. It’s about investing in infrastructure that is smarter, safer, and made to last.

    During a press conference, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) said that there is no current need for further reforms to NEPA either in the surface transportation bill or in the broader Democratic infrastructure plan. See the fact sheet on the Moving Forward Act here.

    The President has touted the idea of passing a trillion-dollar infrastructure package, but Senate Republicans have declined to take on the issue.

  • House appropriators will be marking up bills during the first half of July, and plan to pass 2 minibuses in the second half of July. The Senate schedule is similar, but was slowed last week by fights over appropriations riders.

  • The Senate passed the Great American Outdoors Act by a vote of 73 to 25. The bill would provide funds to the National Park Service, the Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Indian Education for maintenance projects. The House is expected to vote on it in July.

  • A flurry of anti-regulatory legislation has been introduced during the past two weeks:

    H.R. 7130 – This bill would codify the President’s Executive Order (EO) on One Federal Decision. The EO streamlined the project permitting process by placing timelines for government completion of environmental reviews and by consolidating the process across federal agencies. This legislation ensures those changes are permanent and mirrors language in the bipartisan Senate Surface Transportation Reauthorization proposal approved in the Environment and Public Works Committee.

    S. 3922/H.R. 6691 – Sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in the Senate and Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) in the House. This bill requires Congress to justify restoring any regulations modified or waived during the pandemic and sets up review committees.

    S. 3941 – Sponsored by Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), this bill aims to roll back rules that would harm economic recovery during the pandemic.

    S. 3860 – Another bill sponsored by Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), it stipulates that any significant regulations would have to be offset by the repeal of other regulations.

    S.3926 – Sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), the bill would establish deadlines for federal agencies under the FAST Act.

    S. 3927 – Also sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz, this bill would shorten the timetable to file a petition for judicial review of a permit, license, or approval of infrastructure project from 150 to 90 days.
  • S. 3131, championed in the Senate by Senators Udall (D-NM), Risch (R-ID), and Ihofe (R-OK), aims to fund archaeological research in the Mirador-Calakmul basin in Guatemala. This bill has raised concerns as to why we are providing funds to a major project in a foreign country when we need funds for preservation within the US. VICE did a video news piece on the bill that was published on June 17:

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