S. 2579 would appropriate $170 million for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide grants to eligible states and to make loans under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Program to eligible entities for water infrastructure projects. The bill also would appropriate $50 million for a lead exposure registry and three children’s health programs related to lead exposure. Finally, beginning in fiscal year 2021, S. 2579 would prohibit further spending by the Department of Energy of certain balances available to cover the subsidy costs of loans issued through the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) Loan Program.
CBO and staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimate that over the 2016-2026 period enacting S. 2579 would:
Increase direct spending for water infrastructure and outreach activities related to lead exposure by $220 million;
Reduce direct spending for the ATVM program by $300 million;
Increase the issuance of tax-exempt bonds by states to partly match the federal loans for water infrastructure projects provided by S. 2579, thereby reducing federal revenues by $37 million; and
Decrease budget deficits by $43 million.
Some provisions in S. 2579 would affect federal spending that is subject to appropriation; however, CBO has not completed an estimate of those costs.
Because enacting the bill would affect direct spending and revenues, pay-as-you-go procedures apply. The law that established pay-as-you-go procedures excludes from such calculations any budgetary effects designated as an emergency requirement. Consequently the reduction in ATVM spending under S. 2579 is not included when estimating the pay-as-you-go cost of the legislation, and CBO estimates that for pay-as-you-go purposes, S. 2579 would increase budget deficits by $257 million over the 2016-2026 period.
Enacting the legislation would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2027.
S. 2579 would impose an intergovernmental and private-sector mandate as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) on owners and operators of public water systems. The bill would require those owners and operators to notify the public when measurements of lead in drinking water exceed safe levels prescribed by federal regulations under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Based on information from EPA about current notification practices with regard to lead and other contaminates, CBO estimates that the aggregate cost of the mandates would fall below the annual thresholds established in UMRA for intergovernmental and private-sector mandates ($77 million and $154 million in 2016, respectively, adjusted annually for inflation). The bill also would benefit state and local governments by authorizing federal grants and loans for water infrastructure projects.