June 12, 2008
Email the Editor
Home Page
. Search back issues
. Forward to a Friend
.
. Subscribe/Unsubscribe
Printer Friendly
TRANSPORTATION
New Highway Trust Fund Solvency Plan Proposed Action Needed
House Passes Passenger Rail Investment Bill
IMMIGRATION
White House Issues Executive Order, Proposed Rule Requiring the Use of E-Verify
LABOR
AGC Supported Legislation Ensuring Green Job Training Funds Are Available to All Contractors Introduced This Week

  New Highway Trust Fund Solvency Plan Proposed Action Needed
A bipartisan group of Senators today announced a new plan to address the projected Highway Trust Fund revenue shortfall in fiscal year 2009.  Earlier this year, the Bush Administration projected a revenue shortfall in the Highway Account of the Highway Trust Fund of about $3.7 billion, which, if not offset, would require a reduction in states’ federal highway funding of about $14 billion or 34 percent below the level guaranteed in SAFETEA-LU for fiscal year 2009.  Moreover, given recent government data reporting a historic decline in vehicle miles traveled, due largely to a drop in driving in response to high gas prices, it is possible that revenue into the Highway Account may erode further. 

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Ranking Member Charles Grassley, (R-Iowa) and Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) have developed a plan to ensure sufficient Highway Trust Fund revenues are available to fulfill the commitments made in SAFETEA-LU.  Their plan would transfer as much as $8 billion from the U.S. Treasury to the Highway Trust Fund.  These funds were previously taken from the Highway Trust Fund during TEA-21 negotiations when the Fund enjoyed a sizable surplus.  The bipartisan plan would be included in legislation soon to be taken up by the Senate that would extend authorization for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) (H.R. 3540) for three months. 

AGC strongly urges all members and chapters to contact their Senators immediately in support of the Baucus/Grassley/Murray plan to fix the Highway Trust Fund.  To contact your Senators, please visit AGC’s Legislative Action Center.

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

  House Passes Passenger Rail Investment Bill
The U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday passed a bill authorizing $14.9 billion for rail programs over the next five years.  The bill, H.R. 6003, the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act, establishes the Intercity Passenger Rail Investment Grant Program to assist with the financing of the capital costs of facilities, infrastructure and equipment necessary to provide or improve intercity passenger rail service, as well as the High Speed Rail Corridor Grant Program for the financing, design, construction, and operation of an initial high-speed rail system between New York City and Washington, D.C.  In addition to providing capital and operating grants to Amtrak, the bill allows the U.S. Treasury to restructure and repay Amtrak’s debt and puts in place other mechanisms to reform Amtrak operations. 

Major infrastructure provisions of the bill include the following: 
 
Tunnel Project: H.R. 6003 authorizes $60 million over five years for a new rail tunnel alignment in Baltimore, Md., that will enable increased train speed and service reliability.
 
Northeast Corridor:  H.R. 6003 establishes the Northeast Corridor Infrastructure and Operations Advisory Commission to develop recommendations for the Northeast Corridor.  The bill also requires Amtrak to conduct a study to determine improvements needed to reduce travel time between Washington, D.C. and New York City and between New York City and Boston, Mass.
 
Plan for Restoration of Service:  H.R. 6003 requires Amtrak to provide a plan for restoring passenger rail service between New Orleans, La., and Sanford, Fla., which was suspended as a result of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. 
 
Buy American:  H.R. 6003 subjects Amtrak to the Buy American Act for purchases of $100,000 or more.
 
Intercity Passenger Rail Investment Grants:  H.R. 6003 provides grants to assist in financing the capital costs of facilities, infrastructure, and equipment necessary to provide or improve intercity passenger rail service. 
 
High-Speed Rail:  H.R. 6003 provides grants in the amount of $350 million annually for a High Speed Rail Corridor Grant Program.  The bill requires the Secretary of Transportation to request proposals for projects for the financing, design, construction and operation of an initial high-speed rail system between New York City and Washington, D.C.

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

  White House Issues Executive Order, Proposed Rule Requiring the Use of E-Verify
On June 12, 2008, Federal Acquisition Regulation Council issued a proposed rule to amend the Federal Acquisition Register (FAR) to require certain contractors and subcontractors to use the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' (USCIS) E-Verify system as the means of verifying that their employees are eligible to work in the United States. Comments are due August 11, 2008.

The rule proposes the following:
1.      Requiring contractors to enroll in the E-Verify program within 30 days of contract award and verifying the employment eligibility of all new employees hired after enrollment in E-Verify, and continued use of the E-Verify program for the life of the contract.
2.      Requiring contractors to provide a flow-down clause in subcontracts over $3,000 for services or for construction contracts.
3.      Requiring contractors and subcontractors to use E-Verify to confirm the employment eligibility of all existing employees who are directly engaged in the performance of work under the covered contract.
4.      Requiring federal agencies to amend existing indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contracts to include the clause for future orders if the remaining period of performance extends at least six months after the effective date of the final rule.
 
The proposed rule would apply to solicitations issued and contracts awarded after the effective date of the notice of the final rule.
 
The proposed rule applies to employment in the United States and includes the fifty States, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands. It does not currently include the United States territories of American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, nor does it apply to work on U.S. embassies or military bases in foreign countries. Finally, the proposed rule does not apply to any employee hired prior to November 6, 1986.

For more information, including the rule, click here.  
 
For more information, contact Marco Giamberardino at giamberardinom@agc.org or (703) 837-5325 or Kelly Knott at knottk@agc.org or (202) 547-4685.
[ return to top ]

  AGC Supported Legislation Ensuring Green Job Training Funds Are Available to All Contractors Introduced This Week

This week, a bill (H.R. 6220) was introduced in the House that would open up the Green Jobs Act to allow any contractor, regardless of union affiliation, with an accredited training program to compete for grants under the Green Jobs Act. 

The Green Jobs Act is a provision to establish an energy and renewable energy worker training program as part of the enacted Energy Independence and Security Act.  Though funding has not yet been appropriated for this Act, AGC is hoping for some changes prior to any grant funding.  The Green Jobs Act, as currently written, would limit training grant funding to only entities that coordinate with labor organizations.  AGC supports the creation of a program to train an efficient and renewable energy skilled workforce.  However, AGC believes that the opportunity to qualify for such grants should be open to all contractors, both union and open shop, that have accredited training programs. 
 
For more information, please contact Kelly Knott at knottk@agc.org or (202) 547-4685. [ return to top ]