Volume 4 -- Issue 33 -- September 6, 2007
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TRANSPORTATION
AGC Supports Oberstar Bridge Initiative to Fund Infrastructure Improvements
Senators Introduce AGC-Supported “Build America Bonds”
IMMIGRATION
DHS Guidance Letters on No-Match Rule Delayed
AGC CEO Coauthors Social Security No-match Op-ed
FEDERAL
AGC Works with Senate Leadership to Pass WRDA by Month’s End
Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Military Construction-VA Appropriations Bill

  AGC Supports Oberstar Bridge Initiative to Fund Infrastructure Improvements

AGC submitted a statement in support of the National Highway System Bridge Reconstruction Initiative at a hearing Wednesday in Washington D.C. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.) called the hearing to address the nation's response to the 74,000 structurally deficient bridges recently highlighted by the tragic failure of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis.

The bridge reconstruction initiative would increase inspection standards for bridges on the National Highway System, provide dedicated funding to states distributed according to a needs based formula to address the deficient bridges, create a new Highway Trust Fund-like funding mechanism and increase the federal excise tax on gasoline by five cents to provide the new trust fund with necessary revenue. The initiative would also prohibit any of the funds from being earmarked for specific projects.

AGC noted that increasing the federal motor fuels tax on gasoline is vital to address not only bridge needs but transportation infrastructure needs in general. AGC called an increase in the gas tax renewed its long standing call for the gas tax to be indexed for inflation to ensure that the buying power of the revenue is maintained. AGC also recommended that states that have shifted more than 80 percent of their federal bridge funds to other needs should move down the priority list in receiving these new funds and AGC supports the provision to forbid earmarking.

A formal bill has not yet been introduced.

For more information, contact Karen Bachman at 202-547-4733 or bachmank@agc.org. [ return to top ]

  Senators Introduce AGC-Supported “Build America Bonds”

Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) today announced the introduction of legislation authorizing the issuance of $50 billion in “Build America Bonds” over the next six years to finance roads, rail, bridge, water and other critical infrastructure projects. AGC’s Steve Sandherr participated in press conference with Senators Wyden and Thune and other industry stakeholders in support of the legislation. AGC views this effort as an additional one-time supplement to any increase AGC is able to get in the user fee.

The legislation would establish a commission to provide funding for “qualified projects” proposed by a state.  The funding would provide a one-time boost in supplemental infrastructure funding above the amount the Highway Trust Fund and other federal construction spending programs currently support. 

For more information, contact Karen Bachman at 202-547-4733 or bachmank@agc.org. [ return to top ]

  DHS Guidance Letters on No-Match Rule Delayed

Last week the United States District Court for the Northern District of California issued a stay on implementation of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) new rule on Social Security Administration (SSA) “no-match” letters, including the sending of no-match letter packets containing guidance letters from the DHS.  It does not necessarily enjoin the SSA from issuing no-match letters without the DHS enclosures.

The court issued the order in response to a lawsuit filed by the AFL-CIO.  The AFL-CIO’s suit argues that, due to the Social Security Administration’s database being prone for errors, many citizens and legal immigrants could end up losing their jobs because of the new DHS rule on dealing with Social Security no-match letters.  The judge believed that the case had enough merit to temporarily restrain DHS from taking action to implement the no-match rule until she considers the AFL-CIO’s argument to permanently strike down the rule.  A hearing on this matter is expected to take place on October 1. 

AGC will host an audio conference on September 20, 2007, to discuss the new rule.  More details on this audio conference will be announced shortly at www.agc.org/audioconferences.

For more information, please contact Kelly Knott at knottk@agc.org or (202) 547-4685. [ return to top ]

  AGC CEO Coauthors Social Security No-match Op-ed

Last week, Steve Sandherr and Terry O'Sullivan coauthored an op-ed piece regarding the new regulations on Social Security no-match. 

“Our nation's failure to truly secure its borders and restore respect for the law through comprehensive immigration reform, coupled with a new directive regarding so-called Social Security no-matches, is about to deliver a solid punch to an already-unstable economy…”

Click here for the complete editorial.

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  AGC Works with Senate Leadership to Pass WRDA by Month’s End

The Water Resources Development ACT of 2007 could see a final vote to consider the $21 billion reauthorization as early as the end of September. AGC has continued to press this vote into action.

Senate leaders have indicated to AGC that the bill, which only needs final Senate approval before being sent to the President, will be scheduled for final action by the end of the month. In addition, leadership from both sides of the aisle have said that although the President still intends to veto the measure, they will work vigorously to override a veto.

The House passed the WRDA conference report just before the August recess, voting 381-40 to authorize more than 900 Army Corps of Engineers flood control and environmental restoration projects despite a veto threat from the White House. The measure, which is scheduled to be considered every two year, has not been reauthorized since 2000.
 
For more information, please contact Marco Giamberardino at giamberm@agc.org or (703) 837-5325. 
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  Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Military Construction-VA Appropriations Bill

The Senate today approved its 2008 spending bill for military construction and veterans’ affairs by a vote of 92-1. The measure would provide $109.3 billion in Fiscal Year (FY) 08 for the Department of Defense’s military construction program and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Although that figure is $4.1 billion more than the Bush Administration request, the President is expected to sign the bill.

Military construction accounts would receive $21.6 billion in the Senate bill, $391 million more than Bush requested and $3.6 billion more than Congress approved for FY 07. The House passed its largely similar bill by a vote of 409-2.
 
House and Senate leaders have about three weeks left to reconcile any remaining differences in their respective versions of the measure before the start of the new fiscal year on October 1.

For more information, please contact Marco Giamberardino at giamberm@agc.org or (703) 837-5325.
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