August 20, 2019

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Possible Water Resources Development Act and Energy Bills This Week

Potential Energy Legislation

After the House proposed a narrow version of the energy bill to the Senate, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) proposed a broader bill once again. After a meeting last week with House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT), Chairman Murkowski appeared confident she will get a bill during the Lame Duck session. However, the House is reportedly less inclined to move and there are still several hurdles to resolve, including but not limited to: LNG export, permanent authorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), California drought and wildfire spending, and the Sportsman’s Act, which would allow guns on all federal lands including National Parks. Beyond substantive sticking points, time is tightening with Congress aiming to adjourn by December 9. If Congress agrees to legislation to fund the government beyond December 9 and adjourns, agreement on a conference report on the energy bill will need to be reached early this week in order to clear the legislation by the end of the week.


The House and Senate are closer to reaching an agreement on the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). A main point of contention surrounds the “Buy America” requirements for projects assisted by the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. Overall, WRDA legislation, if passed, would authorize the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to carry out specified navigation, flood protection, and ecosystem improvement projects throughout the country. Chairman Inhofe reported that the bill would also appropriate $170 million to support Flint, MI following the community’s lead-contaminated drinking water crisis. The funding would be offset by funds from a Department of Energy loan program for advanced vehicle manufacturing. The conference report could be released as early as Monday. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) expressed hopes that WRDA will be brought to the floor this week.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • On Tuesday, December 6, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, will hold a hearing titled “Volkswagen’s Emissions Cheating Settlement: Questions Concerning ZEV Program Implementation.” In a legal settlement from earlier this year, Volkswagen agreed to invest $2 billion in zero emission vehicle (ZEV) infrastructure following their use of computer software that was designed to cheat federal emissions tests.

Regulatory Activity

Climate Change

The Department of State, in conjunction with the U.S. Global Change Research Program, is seeking nominations for U.S. scientists to serve as authors or editors on the first Special Report that will be written by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The report aims to address the impacts of global warming of 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels and related greenhouse gas emissions issues to potentially strengthen “global response to climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty.” The call for nominations will close on Tuesday, December 6. Nominations may be submitted here.

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About this Author

Sarah Vilms, Public Policy Adviser, Squire Patton Boggs Law Firm
Public Policy Advisor

Sarah Vilms provides legislative strategy and congressional advocacy on behalf of clients, including corporations, municipal governments and nonprofits. Her experience includes more than 20 years in environment and natural resources, education, health care, transportation, voting and sporting issues, among other areas. Ms. Vilms presents matters on behalf of clients before Congress, the White House and federal agencies. 

Mallory A. Richardson, Public Policy Specialist, Squire Patton Boggs, Law Firm
Public Policy Specialist

Mallory Richardson is a member of the firm’s Transportation, Infrastructure & Local Government and Public Policy Practices. Prior to becoming a public policy specialist, Mallory was selected through a competitive process to participate in the firm’s public policy internship program. In this position, Mallory assisted attorneys and senior policy professionals on legislative and regulatory research, hearing and event coverage, and produced reports focusing on issues including energy, transportation, education and local municipalities. In addition, she proactively worked with the firm’s Energy and Natural Resources Public Policy Practice on strategy development and implementation, and engaged with Executive and Legislative Branch officials through meetings, hearings and events.