February 7, 2008
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ECONOMY
Stimulus Sent Through Senate, Moves Back to House
FEDERAL CONSTRUCTION
Budget Request Proposes Cuts to Federal Construction Spending
HIGHWAY & TRANSPORTATION
President's 2009 Budget Calls for Transportation Funding Cuts
LABOR
Family Medical Leave Act Changes Signed Into Law

  Stimulus Sent Through Senate, Moves Back to House
The Senate voted twice this week on stimulus legislation designed to improve upon the House-Administration brokered deal. After failing to reach sixty votes on Wednesday, the Senate agreed to a modified proposal on Thursday by a vote of 81-16 which, while slightly decreasing the size of the rebate, provides a mechanism for rebates to those on social security and in the military, while excluding illegal aliens.  The legislation goes back to the House, where Democrat and Republican leadership have announced they will accept the provisions and will vote to quickly send the bill to the President’s desk.

In an attempt to add infrastructure investment to the Stimulus package, Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) filed an amendment that would have add $5 billion to the Highway Trust Fund, with $4 billion going to the Highway Account and $1 billion going to the Mass Transit Account.  AGC members and employees generated more than 400 letters to Senators in support of the amendment, and 12 other Senators (Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Tim Johnson (D-S.C.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), James Webb (D-Va.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Tom Harkin (Iowa), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), and Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.)) joined as cosponsors of the amendment.  Unfortunately, the Senate did not get the opportunity to consider the Wyden-Thune amendment.

For more information, contact Heidi Blumenthal at blumenthalh@agc.org or (202) 547-8892 or Karen Bachman at bachmank@agc.org or (202) 547-4733. [ return to top ]

  Budget Request Proposes Cuts to Federal Construction Spending
The Bush Administration Monday released its budget request to Congress for fiscal year 2009.  For federal construction accounts, the Administration requests a 2.86 percent reduction from the levels enacted last year.  While the budget requests substantial increases in defense and national security related accounts, cuts are recommended for most non-defense construction spending. 

Below is a comparison of selected federal construction accounts:

  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Construction: $1.4 billion, $892 million less than FY 2008 (39 percent reduction)
  • Environmental Protection Agency, Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund Program: $555 million, $134 million less than FY 2008 (20 percent reduction)
    Department of Defense, Military Construction: $11.4 billion, $1.4 billion more than FY 2008 (14 percent increase)
  • Department of Defense, Military Housing, $3.2 billion, $336 million more than FY 2008 (12 percent increase)
  • Federal Aviation Administration, Airport Improvement Program: $2.75 billion, $765 million less than FY 2008 (22 percent reduction)
  • Federal Highway Administration, Federal-Aid Highway Obligation Limitation: $39.4 billion. $1.8 billion less than FY 2008 (4 percent reduction)
  • Federal Transit Administration, Capital Investment Grants: $1.6 billion, $51.7 million more than FY 2008 (3 percent increase)
  • General Services Administration, Construction: $630 million, $313.7 million more than FY 2008 (102 percent increase)

The President’s annual budget request to Congress serves as a blueprint for the annual Congressional appropriations process.

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

  President's 2009 Budget Calls for Transportation Funding Cuts
The Administration’s budget proposes notable cuts in the highway, transit, and airport improvement programs.  The President requested a $39.4 billion obligation limitation for highways.  This is $1.8 billion below the $41.2 billion level authorized in SAFETEA-LU and $1.8 billion below this year's approved funding level, a reduction of about 4.4 percent. 

In 2008, the total obligation limit was also $41.2 billion due to the additional $1 billion Congress added to the program to address at-risk bridge needs in response to the Minneapolis bridge collapse.

Budget documents indicate that these cuts are based on two factors.  First, $800 million is due to a negative RABA calculation.  RABA is the yearly adjustment that is made based on actual Highway Trust Fund revenue versus the amount projected in SAFETEA-LU.  Second, the Administration makes the case that in signing SAFETEA-LU it agreed to a total funding level of $286.4 billion over the 2005-2009 period.  The Administration argues that the $1 billion in additional bridge funding provided in FY 2008 should count against the total six-year commitment.

The budget request proposes $2.75 billion for the Airport Improvement Program which is $765 million less than last year.  Transit spending is requested at $200 million below the SAFETEA-LU authorized funding level.

The Administration's budget also projects that next year revenue into the Highway Account of the Highway Trust Fund will be $3.3 billion short of the amount projected in SAFETEA-LU.  This is significantly higher than the $1.3 billion shortfall projected last week by the Congressional Budget Office.  Federal budget rules would require a program reduction of as much as $12 billion to account for this revenue shortfall. The Administration's budget proposes borrowing funds from the transit account to cover the short fall in the highway account.  

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

  Family Medical Leave Act Changes Signed Into Law
Last week, legislation making changes to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was signed into law.   This bill would affect those with family members in the military to expand the FMLA law to create both Active Duty Leave and Caregiver Leave. 

The first change will provide up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave due to a spouse, child or parent being on active duty or having been notified of an impending call or order to active duty.   Regulations still need to be written to clarify certain portions of the law; nevertheless the Department of Labor has publicly encouraged employers to provide this type of leave to qualifying employees while it writes the regulations.  In addition, the new law does give a private cause of action to individuals to sue in court even before the regulations are written. 

The second change deals with Caregiver Leave.  The new law provides up to 26 weeks of FMLA leave during a single 12-month period for a spouse, child, parent, or nearest blood relative caring for a recovering service member who suffered an injury or illness while on active-duty.  
 
For more information, contact Kelly Knott at knottk@agc.org or (202) 547-4685. [ return to top ]