Update from The Corps Network’s Government Relations Team – December 2, 2021

By Meghan Castellano & Danielle Owen

There has been movement in Washington on the Infrastructure Package and the Build Back Better Act. Read this blog from The Corps Network’s Government Relations Team on what these updates mean for the Service and Conservation Corps community.

 


Budget Reconciliation Process (Build Back Better Act)

Funding for the Civilian Climate Corps (CCC) has been included in the budget reconciliation text, the Build Back Better Act. At present, the Build Back Better Act includes $30 billion for the new CCC. Specifically, $15 billion for AmeriCorps, $5 billion for the Department of Labor and $10 billion for projects at the federal land management agencies.

 

What’s happening now?

Late on November 5, 2021, the House voted on the rule for the Build Back Better (BBB) Act, the legislation that contains the Civilian Climate Corps (CCC). Rule votes set the parameters of debate for legislation on the House floor. House Democratic Leadership decided to hold off on voting on final passage of the BBB Act until the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office provided a “score,” or estimated cost, of the BBB Act. On November 19, the House passed the Build Back Better Act.

 

What happens next?

The BBB Act has now moved to the Senate for passage. In the Senate, every Democrat will need to vote in favor of the BBB Act for it to pass. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has stated that it is his goal to pass the BBB Act by Christmas.  There are still several procedural steps that will need to be taken with the legislation that could slow the process of final passage. The Senate parliamentarian will need to review the bill text to ensure it complies with budget reconciliation procedures. This may result in the legislation going back to the House for a second vote.

The passage of the reconciliation text in the House is a big step in the development of the Civilian Climate Corps. It is very exciting to see the Corps movement included in one of the largest pieces of legislation ever. Thank you to our partners and the member organizations of The Corps Network for your help keeping the Civilian Climate Corps moving forward.

 


Infrastructure Passage

The same night the reconciliation rule was passed, the House passed H.R. 3684, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. President Biden signed the legislation into law on November 15. Since the legislation recently became law, it will take time for funding to reach different agencies, departments, and projects.

The bipartisan infrastructure legislation includes several Corps-friendly components. The language states that Corps are eligible to benefit from funding, partnerships and support through the following programs:

  • Healthy Streets Program: The goals of this Department of Transportation program are to mitigate urban heat islands; improve air quality; and to reduce the extent of impervious surfaces; stormwater runoff and flood risks; and heat impacts to infrastructure and road users. This program would deploy cool pavements and porous pavements and expand tree cover. It authorizes $100,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2022 through 2026. Eligible entities that partner with a “Qualified Youth or Conservation Corps” are given priority on their application.

 

  • Career Skills Training: Under the Department of Energy, “Qualified Youth or Conservation Corps” are defined as an eligible entity. This allows the Energy Secretary to award grants to eligible entities to pay the federal share of associated career skills training programs under which students concurrently receive classroom instruction and on-the-job training for the purpose of obtaining an industry-related certification to install energy efficient buildings technologies. It authorizes $10,000,000 for fiscal year 2022, to remain available until expended.

 

  • Wildfire Risk Reduction: This section of the reconciliation text gives the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture $100,000,000 each for wildfire risk reduction. These efforts will utilize, “existing locally based organizations that engage young adults, Native youth, and veterans in service projects, such as Youth and Conservation Corps.”