January 31, 2008
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ECONOMY
House Passes Bipartisan Stimulus Plan
Senate Finance Committee Reports Economic Stimulus without Highway Funding Floor Amendment Possible
TRANSPORTATION
Senate Committee Conducts Hearing on Transportation Commission Report
CONGRESS
More Congressional Retirements Announced
AGC NEWS
USA Today Spotlights AGC Townhouse
WATER INFRASTRUCTURE
AGC-Backed Trust Fund Study Goes to GAO

  House Passes Bipartisan Stimulus Plan
The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly in favor of the bipartisan stimulus plan developed by House Leadership and the Administration.  The plan includes a $300 rebate per individual filer which adjusts up to a maximum $600 ($1200 per couple) and begins to phase out for people who earn $75,000 ($150,000 per couple). An additional $300 per child will be included. The plan also includes 50 percent bonus depreciation for equipment with a depreciation period of 20 years or less, advocated for by AGC so that companies making equipment investment will have more cash on hand. AGC also insisted on the increased Section 179 expensing up to an overall investment limit of $750,000.  This will increase investment opportunities for contractors and allow small businesses to fully expense $250,000 in both new and used tangible property in the year it is purchased.

In the meantime, AGC has been working with Senate partners to add real stimulus to the plan through infrastructure spending. See the next story for more information.

For more information, contact Heidi Blumenthal at 202-547-8892 or blumenthalh@agc.org.
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  Senate Finance Committee Reports Economic Stimulus without Highway Funding Floor Amendment Possible
The Senate Finance Committee completed action on economic stimulus legislation but did not include any funding for highway construction.  AGC has consistently urged House and Senate leaders to fix the Highway Trust Fund shortfall at the earliest possible opportunity and also wrote to the House and Senate to point out the economic stimulus that comes from infrastructure investment.  Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and John Thune (R-SD) intend to introduce an amendment during floor consideration that would transfer $5 billion in transportation related revenue from the general fund to the Highway Trust Fund.  The Wyden/Thune amendment would get the money out to states in the next 90 days and obligated in the first half of the year. State DOTs report that they have approximately 3,000 projects totaling more than $17 billion that are ready to go to bid if additional revenue is provided. 

While adding infrastructure to the stimulus is a long shot at this point, 22 Senators wrote to House and Senate leaders this week in support of the Wyden proposal. The economic stimulus bill may be brought up on the Senate floor next week. AGC has contacted Senators in support of the Wyden/Thune amendment.  Please contact your Senators and ask their support for the Wyden/Thune amendment. You can send an email to your Senator through AGC’s Legislative Action Center by clicking here.

For more information, contact Brian Deery at deeryb@agc.org or 703-837-5319.
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  Senate Committee Conducts Hearing on Transportation Commission Report
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today conducted a hearing on the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission’s report to Congress, Transportation for Tomorrow.  Similar to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing earlier this month, the Senators attending the hearing were very complimentary and appreciative of the Commission’s effort and final report, and agreed to give the report serious consideration as a blueprint for the upcoming SAFETEA-LU reauthorization process. 

As during the House hearing, no member publicly accepted the Commission’s recommendation to increase the federal fuel tax, but all members signaled their support for increased investment in the nation’s surface transportation system.  Senators expressed concern with the desirability and ability of Congress to enact such a large increase in the federal fuel tax and were instead enthusiastic of recommendations in the report to accelerate towards a miles-based financing mechanism.  Senators did express disappointment with what they perceive as a lack of creativity in presenting a range of funding options. 

Senators also made substantial comments regarding the Commission’s recommendation to streamline the project delivery process, and discussed with the Commissioners ideas to improve freight mobility and promote passenger rail. 

For more information, contact Karen Bachman at bachmank@agc.org or 202-547-4733.
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  More Congressional Retirements Announced
Congressional retirements continued this week when Representatives Tom Davis (R-VA), Kenny Hulshof (R-MO) and Ron Lewis (R-KY) made their intention public to not run for office again.  The announcements this week make a total of 27 House and five Senate seats without an incumbent that will run in November.

Hulshof was an ally of the construction industry and had been particularly helpful on the 3% withholding tax issue. Davis was a former chairman of the Government Reform committee and had routinely addressed AGC’s federal contractors during national AGC meetings.

The retirements leading into the November election are heavily Republican.  Twenty-two House members and five Senators make up the GOP retirement, which makes regaining either body of Congress difficult.  AGC will mobilize its members and chapters across the country to vote for pro-construction candidates in a Get-Out-the-Vote campaign leading up to November 4.  AGC has compiled a list of all the congressional retirements as well as general election information.

For more information, contact Jim Young at youngj@agc.org or 202-547-0133. [ return to top ]

  USA Today Spotlights AGC Townhouse
The Capitol Hill headquarters of the Associated General Contractors of America, also knows as the AGC Townhouse, was featured today on the front cover of USA Today. The article highlighted AGC’s success in “using their Capitol Hill town house to gain access to the [elected] officials.”  AGC's Townhouse is situated in the heart of Washington, D.C., and serves as a monument to AGC's advocacy efforts on behalf of the construction industry.  AGC opened the townhouse in 2000, and since that time has hosted hundreds of events for chapters, member companies, members of Congress and U.S. Presidents.

AGC’s Townhouse, which is located at 53 D Street and was built in 1898, is the only organization to have its building pictured in the print article. Today the townhouse serves as the offices of several members of the AGC government affairs team.

For more information, contact Elisa Brewer (703) 837-5013 or brewere@agc.org.

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  AGC-Backed Trust Fund Study Goes to GAO
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.) has formally requested a Clean Water Trust Fund Study be conducted by the Government Accountability Office.  The Trust Fund Study was included in infrastructure legislation passed by the House last year.  AGC and its Water Infrastructure Network coalition partners pushed for the study in order to identify a fair, broad-based mix of potential long-term sustainable funding. 

The Water Quality Financing Act, which calls for $14 billion over four years for the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund, awaits action in the Senate.

For more information, contact Stu Megaw at megaws@agc.org or 703-837-5321. [ return to top ]