Connecting state and local government leaders
State and local advocates opposed the provisions, which were attached to a massive defense bill and call for financial data to be standardized, searchable and machine-readable.
The U.S. Senate on Thursday sent legislation to President Biden’s desk that includes new financial reporting requirements for states and local governments that critics say will be difficult and expensive for them to comply with.
Government organizations, including the National League of Cities, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Association of Counties and the Government Finance Officers Association, told Senate leaders in a letter that it would cost governments and charities “well over $1.5 billion” to meet the new standards, including a requirement for financial data to be in a standardized, machine-readable and searchable format.
Despite those concerns, the provisions were embedded into an $858 billion defense bill the Senate passed in on an 83-11 vote. The House passed the National Defense Authorization Act last week, meaning it now just needs Biden’s signature to become law.
The legislation calls for the Securities and Exchange Commission to set standards in the next two years for how states and localities must release the financial data.
On another issue important to states, Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, failed yet again to get his proposed overhaul of federal permitting for energy projects approved.
His proposal, which would have, among other things, restricted how states can consider the effects of projects like pipelines and power plants on the environment under the Clean Water Act, fell short of the 60 votes he needed to have it attached to the defense bill.
Progressives say Manchin’s proposal would make it too easy to permit fossil fuel projects, while Republicans say the changes do not go far enough. Manchin had been promised a vote on the proposal by Democratic leaders in return for supporting the sweeping climate, tax and health care package Democrats narrowly approved earlier this year.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a West Virginia Republican, said at a press conference earlier in the day that it appeared Manchin’s effort would fall short. But Capito, who has proposed even broader permitting changes, said a bipartisan group of senators is interested in making changes and will continue trying to reach an agreement on a bill that can pass.
Kery Murakami is a senior reporter for Route Fifty.