Legislative Committee – June 3, 2024: Federal update


Federal updates compiled by Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments – May 31, 2024

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CONGRESS

The House and Senate are not in session this week. They will return Monday, June 3. 

ADMINISTRATION

FHWA Opens Applications for $1.3B in Funding to Build Out the National Electric Vehicle Charging Network

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) opened applications today for the second funding opportunity for electric vehicle (EV) charging and alternative fueling infrastructure in communities around the nation and along designated highways, interstates, and major roadways. The $1.3B funding opportunity is made possible by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) through the Charging and Fueling Infrastructure (CFI) Discretionary Grant Program and a 10% set-aside from the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program. Investments through the CFI Program will make modern and sustainable infrastructure accessible to drivers of electric, hydrogen, propane, and natural gas vehicles. This funding opportunity offers up to $800 million in funding for newly submitted applications and reserves $521 million for previously received applications.

Biden Administration Announces Recipients for Clean School Buses

Yesterday, the Biden-Harris Administration announced the recipients of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2023 Clean School Bus Program rebate competition. EPA’s Clean School Bus Program was created through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) which provided $5 billion of funding to transform the nation’s fleet of school buses. The program’s goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save money for school districts, and produce cleaner air. EPA selected 530 school districts is nearly every state to receive $900 million in funds to replace older, diesel fueled school buses that have been linked to asthma and other conditions that harm the health of students and surrounding communities. The Clean School Bus rebates will help school districts purchase over 3,400 clean school buses. Of the 3,400 buses, 92% will be electric to aid in the goal of accelerating the transition to zero emission vehicles and produce cleaner air in and around schools and communities. EPA is continuing to review applications and may make additional awards. 

FTA Announces $343M to Modernize Transit Stations

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced that eight transit systems in eight states will receive $343 million in federal funding. Making improvements and additions to some of the nation’s oldest and busiest rail transit systems to make it easier to access public transportation. Many Americans with disabilities and injuries have mobility concerns that prevent them from getting to jobs, school, healthcare, and other essential destinations. Public transit could be the best option for individuals who are unable to operate a vehicle. This new investment is through the All Stations Accessibility Program (ASAP), enacted through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). Awardees will use the funding to make rail stations more accessible and compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. To increase accessibility, projects will include installing elevators, renovating platforms for level boarding, improving signage, and enhancing visual and audio systems. 

FAA Investigates Near Collision at Reagan Washington National Airport

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it will launch an investigation after two passenger airlines nearly collided on a runway at Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, D.C. American Airlines flight 2134 was cleared for take-off at the same time a King Air flight was cleared to land on the runway. The American flight was quickly called off, barely avoiding a collision between the planes. This near miss follows another similar occurrence that occurred at National Airport the month before. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) remarked on concerns about the flight capacity at National Airport, especially since the House passed the FAA reauthorization bill which included adding five additional long-distance flight slots to the airport. Senator Kaine and other Virginia and Maryland lawmakers have demonstrated similar concerns over the capacity of the airport and the potential safety risk that adding more flights could pose. 

OTHER FEDERAL NEWS

Cities Are Buying EVs in Bulk for Government Fleets

City governments are adopting electric vehicles (EVs) faster than individual car buyers. This varies by region, but most large cities have adopted climate goals that have led them to buy EVs for their municipal fleets at a faster rate than the public. This implementation could progress even more as more EVs enter the market and as cities get educated about grant funding and tax incentives that have been passed in recent years. Cities operate about 4 million cars, trucks, and buses, far larger than the federal fleet. Switching to EVs will allow cities to demonstrate the EVs are viable, both for businesses and private owners. Cities have warmed up to EVs due to their lower cost for maintenance and fuel. They have also faced pressures from both residents and federal regulators to begin cutting ozone and other localized air pollution caused by vehicles. 

Near-Collisions at Airports Loom Large in Summer Travel Worries

Last year marked a seven-year high in near-collisions among commercial jets with the summer accounting for nearly half. The next few months are expected to bring record-breaking traffic to the skies, testing airlines, airports, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) understaffed air controllers. The surge of incidents with planes nearly colliding while landing or taking off, or narrowly averting crashing into one another on the tarmac, has added to the nervousness about U.S. aviation safety. This year, the number of incidents has fallen, but two near-crashes last month in New York and Washington have put pressure on regulators and airlines to avoid a potential fatality. With the airline industry predicting that air travel will produce roughly 26,000 flights per day this summer, there are major concerns about safety and capacity. The two incidents that occurred this year have gathered significant media attention about whether regulators should be doing more. 

Auto Parts Suppliers Fear a Crash with Shift to EVs 

Anxiety over transitioning to electric vehicles is high in thousands of businesses, large and small, that have long supplied parts and equipment for cars and trucks powered by internal combustion engines (ICE). ICE vehicles typically need more parts for maintenance than EVs, such as radiators, fuel injectors, and spark plugs. Regulations published in March by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) aim to cut vehicle emissions of greenhouse gases in half by 2032 and push the industry farther toward EVs. These new regulations have been a cause for concern over the impact on the entire auto industry. To help facilitate the transition, the Biden Administration announced early this month that the Department of Energy (DOE) will provide $100 million to help automotive suppliers prepare for the future. Half the funds will go into grants to help small and medium-sized suppliers convert from ICE parts to the EV supply chain. The other $50 million will be grants for suppliers to kickstart conversion projects.  

Updates from federal delegation

SENATORS BENNET / HICKENLOOPER

Bennet, Hickenlooper Welcome Additional $90 Million from Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for Ark Valley Conduit

Senators Have Helped Secure Over $348 Million to Expedite Construction, Deliver Clean Water to 39 Southeast Colorado Communities

Washington, D.C. — Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper welcomed the announcement from the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) that $90 million in new funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law would be made available to expedite construction of the Arkansas Valley Conduit (AVC). 

“Since joining the Senate, I’ve pushed for greater investments and passed legislation to ensure the federal government keeps its word and finishes the Arkansas Valley Conduit,” said Bennet. “This announcement brings us one step closer, but I’ll keep working with the Bureau of Reclamation and the 39 communities across Southeast Colorado to finish this project and deliver a safe and reliable water supply for every Coloradan.”

“We broke ground on the Arkansas Valley Conduit to finally deliver clean drinking water to Southeast Colorado. Now, more Bipartisan Infrastructure Law investments like this one will speed up the timeline,” said Hickenlooper.

The AVC is a planned 130-mile water-delivery system from the Pueblo Reservoir to communities throughout the Arkansas River Valley in Southeast Colorado. This funding will help expedite the construction timeline. The AVC is the final phase of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, which Congress authorized in 1962.

Bennet and Hickenlooper have consistently and successfully advocated for increased funding for the AVC. In January, Bennet and Hickenlooper wrote to President Biden to urge him to prioritize funding for the AVC in his Fiscal Year 2025 (FY25) budget. The senators also called on Senate Appropriations leaders to provide more funding for the project in the FY25 appropriations bill. In January 2023, Bennet and Hickenlooper urged BOR to allocate additional resources through annual appropriations and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding.

As a result of their calls and with this announcement, the senators have helped deliver $250 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for the AVC, including $100 million in 2023 and $60 million in 2022. They also secured over $60 million in annual appropriations bills since 2010, including $10.1 million in Fiscal Year 2024 and $10.1 million in Fiscal Year 2023, and they pushed BOR to support the project with over $38 million in additional funding since 2013. Bennet and Hickenlooper will continue working in Washington to ensure Colorado has the resources needed to complete this vital project for the region.

REPRESENTATIVE LAMBORN

Congressman Lamborn’s Contributions To The Fiscal Year 2025 National Defense Authorization Act

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Doug Lamborn, Chairman of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, participated in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2025 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) markup. After 12 hours of debate and negotiation, Chairman Lamborn and his colleagues in the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) reviewed over 700 amendments, and it passed out of HASC in a 57-1 vote.

H.R. 8070 will authorize $883.7 billion for America’s national defense, including 16 amendments that Congressman Lamborn led.

“As Chairman of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, I applaud the advancement of the Servicemember Quality of Life Improvement and National Defense Authorization Act for FY25 out of the House Armed Service Committee.”

“For the past seventeen years, I have had the privilege of serving on the House Armed Services Committee, where we have consistently championed the National Defense Authorization Act. This crucial legislation, which guides the policies and funding of our defense agencies, is a cornerstone of our commitment to national security and the well-being of our servicemembers.”

“In these challenging times, it is more important than ever to bolster our military capabilities and deter our adversaries. With a budget of $883.7 billion, the Servicemember Quality of Life Improvement and National Defense Authorization Act for FY25 is a significant step in this direction. It not only strengthens our deterrence against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) but also enhances the quality of life for our dedicated servicemembers, accelerates our hypersonic capabilities, and addresses the growing nuclear and strategic threats we face.”

“This markup also ensures that our men and women in uniform have the tools and resources to serve and defend our nation while caring for their families. I applaud House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rogers for his leadership on this crucial legislation,” said Congressman Lamborn.

“Our strategic posture has never been more vital. For the first time in history, our nation is faced with the challenge of deterring two near-peer nuclear adversaries at the same time,” Chairman Mike Rogers (R-AL) said. “Thanks to Rep. Lamborn’s steadfast leadership as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, the FY25 NDAA strengthens our defense by providing for the continued modernization of our nuclear deterrent and supporting the development of our hypersonic capabilities.”

Chairman Lamborn secured and supported several amendments and initiatives specific to:

  • Accelerating and prioritizing hypersonic development.
  • Advancing missile defense capabilities and policies.
  • Modernizing our nuclear deterrent.
  • Maintaining momentum in military space.
  • Strengthening national security & prioritizing Colorado.

As Chairman of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, Congressman Lamborn was responsible for drafting the portion of the National Defense Authorization Act that encompasses the Department of Defense’s nuclear enterprise, missile defense agency, and military space enterprise. It included provisions that accomplish the following:

Advancing missile defense capabilities and policies:

  • Requires the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in coordination with the Commander of United States Northern Command, to submit a report that identifies existing or novel sensor and interceptor capabilities necessary to defend critical infrastructure assets.
  • Directs the Department of Defense (DoD) to assess the operational impact of persistently elevated network sensors that can identify, classify, and provide firing quality track data to U.S. and allied missile defense systems on air defense missions.
  • Directs the Commander of Army Space and Missile Defense Command to provide a briefing on plans to address environmental degradation and modernize facilities for the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site at U.S. Army Garrison-Kwajalein Atoll.
  • Requires a DoD strategy to improve cooperation on joint air and missile defense activities in U.S. Central Command among U.S. allies and partners to counter future air and missile attacks.
  • If the program is recertified following the Nunn-McCurdy review, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment must ensure the maximum feasible opportunity for competition and maximum Federal Government oversight of all three Sentinel program areas.
  • Adds Directive Report Language concerning Air Force Global Strike Command manning.
  • Updates to possible alternatives for consideration in the report on the Sentinel Program.

Modernizing our nuclear deterrent:

  • Fully funds the nuclear modernization program of record.
  • Requires a statement of policy concerning nuclear weapons.
  • Requires reports and briefings on recommendations of the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States.
  • Establishes modifications and terminations of Certain Reporting Requirements Under Atomic Energy Defense Act.
  • Requires a report on the impact of the Nuclear-Armed Sea-Launched Cruise Missile (SLCM-N).
  • Adds arms control considerations into section 1622 of base NDAA text.
  • Establishes a briefing on the plans for a new material staging facility at the Pantex Plant.
  • Requires a report on feasibility of a Nunn-McCurdy Process for National Nuclear Security Administration
  • Updates to possible alternatives for consideration in the report on the Sentinel Program.
  • Requires a report on the Sentinel Nunn-McCurdy process.

Maintaining momentum in military space:

  • Establishes the Commercial Augmentation Space Reserve.
  • Requires an annual briefing on Commercial Space Strategy of the Space Force.
  • Creates a pilot program to demonstrate Hybrid Space Architecture.
  • Directs the Secretary of the Air Force to submit a briefing on commercial space command and control software.
  • Directs the Chief of Space Operations to prepare a comprehensive plan for modernizing the satellite control network of the Space Force.
  • Requires a report on in-space servicing, assembly, and manufacturing capabilities.
  • Amends Directive Report Language on space-based environmental monitoring to include consideration of commercial capabilities.
  • Includes Directive Report Language for the National Reconnaissance Office’s plan to procure more Commercial Synthetic Aperture Radar.
  • Identifies and evaluates commercial space situational awareness capabilities, enabling low latency video and advanced edge computing to monitor space environments and assets faster across all orbit regimes.
  • Requires a briefing on how the United States Space Command’s Joint Commercial Operations cell develops and implements a hybrid government-commercial space domain awareness force design.
  • Requires a briefing on developing resilient positioning, navigation, and timing technologies.

Strengthening national security & prioritizing Colorado:

  • Directs the Secretary of Defense to prepare a space and satellite security assessment for allies and partners in the Middle East.
  • Directs Secretary of Defense to provide the House Armed Services Committee a briefing on a plan to resource and enable an architecture to connect with operationally relevant interoperability.
  • Modifies the annual assessment of the budget concerning Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations Capabilities.

Accelerating and prioritizing hypersonic development:

  • Requires a briefing on the current development, testing, and deployment of hypersonic weapons by the People’s Republic of China.

Congressman Lamborn also championed 16 amendments that directly support Colorado Springs and other national security initiatives in this year’s FY25 NDAA include:

  1. This bill works to improve the safety and effectiveness of Army training at the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site (PCMS), Colorado. HASC directs the Assistant Secretary of the Army to provide a brief to the House Committee on Armed Services. The briefing will include the following:
    • Performs an evaluation of any foreseeable risks of wildfires or impacts to soldier training.
    • Provides an assessment of the risks and limitations on training attributable to the pipeline in the PCMS, options to minimize the aforementioned risks, and pipeline recapitalization options including:
      • Relocating the pipeline
      • Relocating air blending stations and rerouting the gas to allow the pipeline traversing PCMS to be abandoned in place.
      • Requesting military construction funds to buyout the easements from the pipeline owner/operator.
    • The feasibility of a state, county, or local government in Colorado forming a public-private partnership (such as a business improvement district) with the gas pipeline owner/operator in order to help implement a preferred pipeline recapitalization option.
  2. Establishes a briefing on the Commercial Airlift Review Board certification process and criteria.
  3. Initiates language directing a strategy for phased cloud modernization for the Satellite Control Network.
  4. Establishes a briefing on efforts to integrate United States commercial satellite systems with the government architecture to augment and build resiliency for secure space-based data communications related to low earth orbit.
  5. Leverages commercially available threat visualization and simulation capabilities to rapidly develop advanced training capabilities that enable Guardians to develop space warfighting tactics.
  6. Requires the Navy to brief the House Armed Services Committee on areas where the naval ship construction and maintenance enterprise can leverage the mining equipment industry’s advanced processes, techniques, and equipment to increase efficiency and lower costs.
  7. Requires a report on roles and responsibilities relating to defense against hypersonic threats. Hypersonic missile threats are expanding, particularly threats posed by China and Russia.
  8. Directs the DoD to report on efforts to remediate drinking water supplies contaminated with per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, which are attributable to the DoD.
  9. Directs a report on Strategic Missile Tube Reactivation for Ohio-class Submarines.
  10. Provides for the extension and modification of an annual report that significantly impacts our understanding of Iran’s military power.
  11. Prohibits the admittance of Chinese and Russian nationals to national security laboratories and nuclear weapons production facilities.
  12. Expands some prohibitions regarding missile defense information and systems to apply to the People’s Republic of China.
  13. Directs the Secretary of Defense to provide a briefing on the operational utility, technical applications, and procurement feasibility of deploying persistent elevated network sensors to support air and missile defense capabilities to defend U.S. territory and globally deployed forces.
  14. The House Armed Services Committee strongly encourages the Department to continue the investment in private 5G Open RAN for existing pilot projects focused on tactical operations.
  15. Prohibition on Department of Defense Transport of Palestinian refugees to the United States.
  16. Directs Chief of Space Operations to report on plans to expand the Space Force acquisition workforce.

The National Defense Authorization Act is legislation that Congress passes each year to change the policies and organization of United States defense agencies and guide how military funding may be spent. Though funding for the U.S. military must be approved through appropriation bills, Congress uses the NDAA to establish defense priorities, make organizational changes to military agencies, and guide the Department of Defense.

Read Congressman Lamborn’s opening statement during the FY25 Strategic Forces Subcommittee markup here.

Watch Chairman Rogers’s remarks regarding Congressman Lamborn and other members during the FY25 NDAA markup here.