On January 18, 2024, both the U.S. House and Senate passed a third Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government operating while negotiations on FY24 appropriations continue. The new CR continues the laddered approach enacted in the previous CR by providing two deadlines that apply to different spending bills.
Category: Capitol Corner
Centralina got 2024 off to a great start by hosting a breakfast on January 5th for the region’s newly elected local officials. The event featured an open, fireside style of conversation with North Carolina’s senior U.S. Senator, Thom Tillis, who encouraged local elected officials “to think about regional connectivity” when approaching the federal government for resources and to think creatively.
Each year, the federal government provides significant funding to state and local governments. Those funds, usually in the form of federal grants, awards and assistance agreements, provide funding for all types of programs and services, including but not limited to, water and transportation infrastructure, public safety, environmental improvements and energy efficiency. The federal government places conditions on this type of funding with the goal of making sure federal dollars are spent properly. Those conditions, however, can sometimes create burdens without adding value, and those in Washington are taking note.
In late October, the North Carolina General Assembly approved new district maps for the upcoming 2024 election. As required by the North Carolina Constitution, the state legislature draw districts from which representatives and senators are elected, including members of the United States House of Representatives. Following each decennial census, district maps are redrawn in a process known as redistricting.
On September 30, the United States House and Senate passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) that the President signed to fund the government at FY23 levels until November 17, 2023. The legislation provides $16 billion in disaster-relief funding, but no aid for Ukraine. The bill also reauthorized the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through December 31, 2023, and contained several other miscellaneous provisions. The CR gave Congress 45 days to pass the 12 appropriation bills that fund the government or to pass another CR. Some of that time on the House side has been consumed by the ouster of the speaker and debates about his replacement.
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.
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.