Federal Action Agenda

People working together
People working together

With input from NLC members, NLC’s leadership selected this Federal Action Agenda to guide NLC’s advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill and with the Administration. 


America's infrastructure problems cannot wait. Our transportation network is a knot of congestion and disrepair, our Internet lags behind the rest of the world, families drink from bottled water in the absence of safe tap water, and all the while, federal partnership for infrastructure has faltered, allowing America to fall behind an ever increasing demand.

Cities know that it is time to rebuild and reimagine America’s infrastructure. We are leading the way in building intermodal, sustainable and interconnected infrastructure networks that support a modern economy. 

NLC calls on Congress to partner with cities and invest in our vision to rebuild and reimagine America's infrastructure. Click here for more on NLC's Rebuild With Us infrastructure campaign.


Our nation’s cities face a housing crisis.  Across the country, subsidized and affordably priced homes for rental and homeownership are disappearing as a result of the strong forces within the housing market.  New affordable units are not being built fast enough to meet current or projected needs.  A widening gap between wages and rents is accelerating the loss - and fueling a new increase in homelessness.

Cities cannot solve the crisis of lost housing alone.  While there is a wide variant in housing challenges facing cities—two stand out. In fast-growing cities wages are not keeping up with housing costs, leading to a dearth of affordable housing, and we must create additional units of affordable housing. In slower growth, legacy cities there is a persistent high rate of vacant and blighted housing that is aging beyond repair due to the ongoing after effects of the foreclosure crisis and general economic disruption.

NLC calls on Congress to help cities reverse the loss of affordable and workforce housing by modernizing policies and increasing investment in federal housing programs.


Cities throughout the nation – both urban and rural – are continuing to deal with the tragic effects of the epidemic of heroin and prescription opioid abuse. City leaders have been aggressively developing policies and programs to address substance abuse disorders in their communities, but many local governments lack the necessary resources to mount a comprehensive response to the opioid and heroin epidemic.

Efforts to reduce the number of opioid and heroin overdoses in our cities require a strong partnership between local, state and federal health and law enforcement programs. While Congress has authorized billions of dollars in federal funding to states for opioid abuse prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery services, there is a lack of clarity from Congress and the Administration on how States should use the money has left millions of dollars in federal funding unspent.

NLC calls on Congress and the Administration to ensure that funds appropriated for substance abuse, treatment, prevention and recovery programs are accessible to cities.

Small Cell Deployment

Cities have faced a rising tide of preemption at the state and federal levels over the past several years. This is especially clear in the area of wireless telecommunications facility siting policy. Last year, the FCC adopted regulations limiting the authority of cities and states to regulate small cell sites (e.g., attachments to street light and utility poles) needed for the deployment of 5G. The regulations took effect on January 14, 2019. Cities, towns and villages are eager to welcome new technologies like 5G, but we must retain the authority to protect the diverse needs of residents.

NLC calls on Congress to support H.R. 530, the Accelerating Wireless Broadband Development by Empowering Local Communities Act of 2019, introduced by Representative Anna Eshoo (CA-18). H.R. 530 would repeal recent harmful Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations that force local governments to subsidize the deployment of 5G wireless infrastructure on public property with no guarantee of improved service for residents.


NLC supports the Census Bureau’s mission to “serve as the nation’s leading provider of quality data about its people and economy.” We also understand the many ways in which Census Bureau data impact a city. An accurate count of your community through the 2020 Census is essential. It determines the allocation of more than $800 billion in federal funding across states, counties and cities. It helps us redraw our districts. And it helps us fundamentally better understand our community.

Click here to view resources to help your community prepare for the upcoming 2020 Census. 

Tax Policy

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017 was the largest change to the U.S. tax code in more than 3 decades and narrowly passed under reconciliation rules. With Americans submitting their first returns under the new tax regime and split control in Congress, it remains to be seen whether or not major tax legislation can pass in the current environment, however, major discussions around tax policy are likely to occur throughout this Congress. 

NLC calls on Congress to preserve the tax exemption on municipal bonds, and that means all municipal bonds, including Private Activity Bonds (PABs), eliminate the $10,000 cap on the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction, and restore the tax exemption for advance refunding bonds. By restoring this essential tax exemption, cities, towns and villages would be able to refinance their debt to achieve lower interest rates, saving local tax payer dollars and freeing up capital for additional infrastructure investments.

Community Resilience

From hurricanes to wildfires, natural disasters and more intense and frequent extreme weather events have severe impacts on local and regional infrastructure, the economy, public safety, public health, natural landscapes and environmental quality. In 2017, U.S. communities experienced 16 billion-dollar-plus disasters, with a cumulative cost exceeding $300 billion. 

Addressing climate change and building community resilience has long been a priority of NLC. In 2018 Congress passed the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA), to put a greater emphasis on pre-mitigation within FEMA. NLC calls on the Administration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to ensure the reforms that are part of the DRRA will help communities rebuild stronger after a disaster and minimize future damage and risk, which will ultimately reduce costs and save taxpayer dollars.

Federal Program Reauthorizations

NLC calls on Congress to reauthorize federal programs important to cities, towns and villages, including: 

  • National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Reauthorization
    • This vital program helps millions of people recover from the flooding disasters occurring more frequently and drastically across the country. Since September 2017, Congress has passed seven short-term extensions for the NFIP, the last of which was in December 2018, but no long-term extension. NLC is concerned that without a long-term extension there will continue to be uncertainty about the fate of the program, flood insurance rates for businesses and residents and disaster resilience.
  • Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act Reauthorization
    • The FAST Act was enacted in December 2015 as comprehensive, long-term surface transportation legislation. Its authorization of $305 billion for federal highway, highway safety, transit, and passenger rail programs from 2016 to 2020 could not have been timelier in supporting economic growth and maintaining transportation infrastructure. However, by not enacting a long-term funding source, the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) continues to remain at a crossroads.