In August, the House and Senate are adjourned and members of Congress traditionally spend their time in their congressional districts. Members of Congress refer to this as the “District Work Period” and use it to meet with constituents and participate in local public events. Centralina Regional Council takes advantage of the district work period to meet locally with our Congressional Delegation to discuss our regional priorities and federal action agenda.
Category: Capitol Corner
Congress is currently in its annual August recess. The Senate returns on September 5th and the House returns on September 12th to begin a very busy legislative session with priority given to the appropriations process. This September could be filled with political drama as Washington insiders and political pundits debate whether or not there will be the first government shutdown in four years.
The Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) of 2023 was signed into law on Saturday, June 3rd. It suspends the debt ceiling allowing the federal government to continue borrowing to fund federal programs through January 1, 2025. The FRA also caps discretionary spending (the money Congress appropriates each year to fund federal agencies and programs, exempting mandatory programs like Medicare and Social Security) for two years. In addition, the FRA rescinds approximately $28 billion in unobligated COVID-19 funding, including funds provided through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and other pandemic-related spending bills. However, ARPA’s State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (SLFRF) and Local Assistance and Tribal Consistency Fund (LATCF), are not affected by this legislation.
The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program is a one-time allocation of $550 million, funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, available to states, local governments, and tribes for energy efficiency and conservation projects. The Department of Energy (DOE) is currently accepting applications for formula grants and for competitive grants.
Signed into law on November 15, 2021, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), also referred to as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), funds numerous transportation infrastructure programs. A year and half later, some BIL programs are re-opening for the second round of applications, while other programs are still preparing to accept applications for the first time. A popular BIL funding opportunity currently accepting a second round of applications is the Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) Grant Program. The second application period for SS4A recently opened on March 30th. This BIL-created grant program provides $5 billion over five years to regional, local, and Tribal initiatives through grants to prevent roadway deaths and serious injuries through planning grants and implementation grants.
The Farm Bill is the primary piece of legislation that determines our nation’s food and agriculture policy. This historically bipartisan five-year authorization bill is set to expire on September 30, 2023, and contains both mandatory and discretionary spending. It has a tremendous impact on both rural and urban communities, farming livelihoods, and food economies, which affect local and regional economic growth as well as the environment and public health.
Thousands of bills are introduced in Congress each year. However, only a few hundred are ever considered by the full House or Senate. After bills are introduced, they are sent to a committee, where the hard work of writing legislation is done. There are 20 committees in the House of Representatives and 16 committees in the Senate, each with jurisdiction over a variety of bills, issues, agencies and programs.
On December 29, 2022, President Biden signed into law the $1.65 trillion omnibus bill to fund the government through September 2023. The omnibus bill provides $1 million in funding for the North Mecklenburg County Housing Preservation Initiative that was requested by Centralina Regional Council and supported by Congresswoman Alma Adams. The bill also provides $772.5 billion in nondefense discretionary funding, up almost 6% from $730 billion from FY22.
Following last month’s general elections and Georgia’s run-off election in December, the composition of the next Congress is finally set. The 118th Congress will be sworn in on January 3rd, 2023, with control split between Democrats and Republicans. In the U.S. House of Representatives, Republicans regained majority control, albeit narrowly, with 222 Republicans and 213 Democrats elected.
Local elections were held November 8, 2022, and the results are in with a couple of changes in our region. In the nine-county Centralina region, 68 total member seats were on the ballot in the 2022 local government general election. Out of these positions, 43 were contested.