August 2021 Public Policy Roundup

August 2021 Public Policy Roundup

Publication date: 
August, 2021

By Hillary Evans, vice president of professional learning & public policy, Philanthropy Southwest

Public Policy Roundup 8.17.21 (August issue) 

Senate Passes Bipartisan Infrastructure Legislation

On August 10, the Senate approved a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill in a historic vote, 69-30. The measure, primarily negotiated by Senators Krysten Sinema (D- AZ) and Rob Portman (R-OH), would provide $550 billion in new funding investments over 8 years.  If passed and signed by the President, this infrastructure legislation would include:

  • $110 billion for roads and bridges
  • $73 billion for electric grid and power infrastructure
  • $66 billion for passenger freight and rail
  • $65 billion for broadband investments
  • $55 billion water systems and infrastructure
  • $50 billion for Western water storage
  • $39 billion for public transit
  • $25 billion for airports
  • $21 billion for environmental remediation projects
  • $17 billion for ports and waterways
  • $15 billion for electric vehicles
  • $11 billion for road safety

This legislation faces an uphill climb in the House, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi vowed not to take up any bipartisan measure until a broader budget bill has also passed the Senate. Meanwhile, the Senate approved a $3.5 trillion budget, and the House is expected to return early from August recess to take up the budget resolution the week of August 23rd. To read more in depth coverage of these pending legislations, click here

Federal Government Declares First-Ever Water Shortage on the Colorado River

The Bureau of Reclamation announced on August 16th the first-ever water shortage emergency on the Colorado River, serving 40 million Americans. Lake Mead is just 35 percent full, the lowest level since the Hoover Dam was completed in the 1930s. Lake Mead will operate in its first-ever Level 1 Shortage Condition beginning in January 2022, with Arizona and Nevada feeling the first cuts.  Philanthropy Southwest’s 73rd Annual Conference will offer a session with leading experts in philanthropy and water policy and drought management. View the latest news here for more details on this dire and historic declaration.

U.S. Census Bureau Releases New Redistricting Data

The U.S. Census Bureau recently released its long-awaited redistricting data files on August 12. Click here to view the press kit. The Fair Representation in Redistricting and Funders’ Committee on Civic Participation will co-host a funder webinar on September 23rd about how community-based groups are mobilizing constituencies to be engaged in this once-in-a-decade process. You may register here for this upcoming event.

ICYMI: PSW Funder Virtual Roundtable on Accelerating Charitable Efforts Act and Webinar on Investing in American Rescue Plan Act Funds 

On August 4th, Philanthropy Southwest’s Webinar Wednesday program featured the Accelerating Charitable Efforts (ACE) Act. Since its introduction in June, this legislation has generated lots of buzz in the charitable sector about the potential implications on donor-advised funds and private family foundations. PSW members may click here to view resources and a recording on this important issue.  With Congress on August recess, no further movement on the bill has been made.

National Council of Nonprofits (NCN) hosted a webinar on August 10th on Investing in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Funds in the Work of Nonprofits: Promoting Nonprofit-Government Partnerships. This legislation, passed earlier this spring, included $350 billion in state and local funds that nonprofits are eligible to receive for developing COVID-related relief programs. This webinar focused on how nonprofits can partner with state, local and tribal governments to access these funds. To view NCN’s report, please click here, and to view this webinar click here.  

United Philanthropy Forum Launches District to D.C. Advocacy Program

United Philanthropy Forum recently launched its District to D.C. Advocacy Program. This program is designed to strengthen member engagement, allowing national philanthropy serving organizations (PSOs) and state/regional PSOs the opportunity to work together and harness the power of the entire Forum network while participating in the advocacy process.  Given the importance of working collectively at the local, state, regional and federal levels, this cooperative effort will foster coordinated collaboration through an Advocacy Action Network, Forum Policy & Advocacy Liaisons (PALs), and a State & Local Policy Alliance to educate, promote and advocate with individuals, governmental and regulatory bodies, and other stakeholders. This program is intended to normalize policy advocacy in the charitable sector.

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