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Legislation & Policy Committee Meeting Summary — January 5, 2023


Legislation and Policy Committee

January 5, 2023

2pmMT/ 3pmCT/ 4pmET
Link to Recording: https://youtu.be/MHB635ePiG0


  1. Call to Order – Kirsten Wallace, UMRBA; Chair
  2. Introductions of participants on the call – Kirsten Wallace, L&P Committee Chair; Beth Callaway, ICWP Executive Director; Drew Dehoff, SRBC; Geoff Bowman, Van Scoyoc Associates; Joy Loughry; Kim Lutz; Katherine Zitsch; Richard Friesner; Robby Short; Wade Loseman; on the phone: Christopher Estes; Chris McCann; Beth Brown.
  3. Updates from Van Scoyoc Associates – Geoff Bowman

FY2023 approps package

        • Passed with no government shutdown. USACE, DOI funds increased. Earmarking practices for spending decisions, project allocations is taking flexibility away from federal agencies. 7500 earmarks in FY2023 package. Only allowed to earmark up to 1% of discretionary budget (??)


        • Almost the entire USACE construction account was earmarked; look out for this as a trend for future investment decisions for FY2024 and FY2025.
        • We should focus on working on engagement strategies for Capitol Hill for USACE, EPA, DOI agencies (rather than going through the agencies).
        • EPA SRF funding earmarks –If we don’t want earmarks to come from this they’re going to have to go elsewhere within the agency budget.
        • USACE — Geoff’s fear is that the trend will become lending to starting projects, but less completion. Not worried about USACE studies (can’t go longer than 7 years). The greatest concern for USACE is for the construction account. The USACE O&M account hasn’t been too susceptible to earmarking.

 This week in Congress

        • Senate has gaveled back out for 2 weeks. Senate committee rosters and subcommittee chairs should come out soon.
        • House Speaker nomination process is taking longer than expected. 8 ballots so far; last time this happened was 1923. Nothing can move in the House until this position is filled.

WOTUS rule issued Dec 29th

        • Biden admin has likely introduced some new legal standards (i.e.- smaller water body must have a material influence on a larger waterway or wetland to be protected under federal jurisdiction) that will be challenged.
        • Significant nexus will likely be a sticking point
        • EPA has largely taken the lead on this rulemaking. USACE is strangely silent.

WRDA 2024

        • Senators will start talking summer 2023. Should have requests ready by late September/early October.
        • House can move more quickly so don’t need to tee up requests until January 2024. Significant action in the House committee will be likely.

Farm Bill 2023 will also be key to demonstrate bipartisanship.

Reminder: January 12th – Members only webinar for FY2024 Appropriations Process hosted by Van Scoyoc

  1. 2023 ICWP Internships – Help spread the word! We’re accepting applications through Jan. 13th. See the announcement posted on ICWP’s website
  2. FY2024 USGS Streamgage Support – Kirsten & Beth
    1. See draft FY2024 letter included with this agenda
      • Wade – USGS is working off of a continuing resolution off 2022 budget. USGS is looking at cutting 150 gages because the budget stays flat but costs go up. If funding continues to stay flat the network will continue to shrink. The goal should be to get gages back online and continue to grow and get data that’s needed.
      • ICWP WD&S committee is looking at possible recommendations to USGS streamgage network gap analysis  for this letter. Will have info for the next L&P committee meeting.

Next steps:

      1. A subgroup was formed to take a first crack at drafting the new FY2024 letter. The group will include Christopher, Richard, Joy, and Drew. A revised draft will be prepared for the next L&P meeting.
      2. Beth to connect with Chad Wagner with USGS to get a status update on the Federal Priorities Streamgage Program for next meeting.
  1. Other FY2024 budget priorities – Beth
    1. Priority #1: USGS FY2024 Streamgaging
    2. Other priorities (from ICWP’s 2023 Legislative Strategy)
  1. Remaining 2023 Work Plan topics:
    1. Farm Bill 2023 – should ICWP weigh in?
      • The committee did not discuss adding this as a priority
    2. NIDIS reauthorization – should ICWP weigh in?
      • The committee agreed that ICWP should be vocal on this process. To be discussed at the next meeting
  1. Set next meeting — February 2nd @ 3pmCT
    • Next meeting’s topic: Complete FY2024 Streamgage letter