Billions for drinking water included in House panel’s infrastructure plan

May 2019

The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) and a suite of other drinking water assistance programs would be reauthorized under a massive infrastructure bill introduced last week by all 31 Democratic members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Sponsored by Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), the LIFT America Act (H.R. 2741) could eventually serve as a piece of a larger infrastructure bill that Congress could consider this year. The measure touches on multiple areas of the committee’s jurisdiction, from broadband to energy production to healthcare to drinking water infrastructure.

The drinking water component of the bill would extend the DWSRF’s authorization for an additional three years, through 2024, and authorize spending more than $14 billion on the program over that time. The bill would extend a number of other drinking water programs, such as school and child care center lead testing grants, drinking fountain replacement grants, community water system risk and resilience assessment grants, and Public Water System Supervision grants. The proposal also includes the text of another bill Rep. Pallone recently offered to create a five-year, $2.5 billion grant program to help community water systems install new treatment technologies to remove PFAS.

The Energy and Commerce Committee has scheduled a hearing on the bill for this Wednesday, indicating that the bill is likely to move through the committee in the coming months. While Republican support for the measure is not assured, components of the overall bill could be candidates for inclusion in a larger infrastructure package, provided that congressional leaders and President Trump can agree on a plan to pay for it. Otherwise, some drinking water provisions could eventually be attached to the next reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act, which Congress is expected to consider next year.