October 2, 2008
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Congressional Relations
Senate Passes Emergency Economic Stabilization Act; House to Vote Friday
President Bush Signs Continuing Resolution
Defense Authorization Legislation Contains Major Contracting Reforms
Safety and Health
AGC Receives Advance Draft Crane and Derricks Proposal
AGC Awarded Susan Harwood Grant

  Senate Passes Emergency Economic Stabilization Act; House to Vote Friday

The Senate Wednesday by a vote of 74 to 25 passed its version of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (EESA) of 2008 as an amendment to a tax extenders package, H.R. 1424.  In addition to the inclusion of a tax extenders package that includes business and energy tax extenders, the alternative minimum tax (AMT) patch, and additional disaster assistance, the primary difference between the bill the House defeated Monday and the Senate-passed bill is an increase in the FDIC insurance coverage to a maximum of $250,000.

AGC has made passage of this legislation its top priority this week and has been working with Congressional and White House leaders to help deliver the votes needed for its passage.

As part of the financial package, Congress passed legislation to help the middle class and extend other tax benefits. The alternative minimum tax “patch” was a late edition added by the Senate.  It's a high priority, as it would stop a tax increase on middle-class taxpayers.  Also included in the legislation is an extension of the state and local sales tax deduction, brownfields expensing, 15-year cost recovery of leasehold, restaurant and retail improvements and the research and experimentation tax credit. 

Finally, the bill encourages energy production by extending the following: production tax credit for energy produced through biomass; the investment credits for wind and solar energy; and the energy-efficiency property tax credits for both residential and commercial properties.

Additional highlights of the package the House is expected to consider on Friday include the following:

Stabilizing the Economy

EESA provides up to $700 billion to the Secretary of the Treasury to buy mortgages and other assets affecting the balance sheets of financial institutions and making it difficult for families and businesses to access credit.  EESA also establishes a program that would allow companies to insure their troubled assets.

Homeownership Preservation

EESA requires the Treasury to modify troubled loans wherever possible to help families keep their homes.  It also directs other federal agencies to modify loans that they own or control, and improves the HOPE for Homeowners program by expanding eligibility and increasing the tools available to the Department of Housing and Urban Development to help more families keep their homes.

Taxpayer Protection

EESA requires companies that sell some of their bad assets to the government to provide warrants so that taxpayers will benefit from any future growth in these companies as a result of participation in this program.  The bill also requires the President to submit legislation that would cover any loses to taxpayers resulting from this program from financial institutions. 

No Windfall for Executives

In order to participate in this program, companies will lose certain tax benefits and, in some cases, must limit executive pay.  In addition, the bill limits “golden parachutes” and requires that unearned bonuses be returned.

Strong Oversight

Rather than giving the Treasury all the funds at once, the legislation gives the Treasury $250 billion immediately, and then requires the President to certify that additional funds are needed ($100 billion, then $350 billion subject to Congressional approval).  The Treasury must report on the use of funds and the progress in addressing the crisis.  EESA also establishes an Oversight Board so that the Treasury cannot act in an arbitrary manner.  It also establishes a special inspector general to protect against waste, fraud, and abuse.

Temporary Increase in Deposit and Credit Union Share Insurance Coverage

The provision increases the maximum amount of FDIC deposit insurance coverage from $100,000 to $250,000 per account, and provides the same increase for credit union deposits.  The changes are effective upon enhancement and expire on December 31, 2009.

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

  President Bush Signs Continuing Resolution

President Bush signed on Tuesday evening a continuing resolution package that funds the federal government through March 6, 2009. It includes three fiscal 2009 appropriations bills and $22.9 billion for disaster relief.

Last week, Congress approved the continuing resolution (CR) to provide partial funds for fiscal year 2009 for those federal programs for which a free standing appropriations bill had not been passed, including the Department of Transportation. The bill is part of a package that also includes three of the 12 annual appropriations measures Congress was able to complete prior to the end of the fiscal year, including Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, Defense, and Homeland Security Appropriations Acts for fiscal year 2009, as well as a disaster relief package. Fiscal Year 2009 begins on October 1, 2008 and the CR provides funds from October 1 through March 6, 2009.  Under the terms of the CR, programs will be funded at their FY 2008 level.

For more information, please contact Marco Giamberardino at (703) 837-5325 or giamberm@agc.org or Karen Bachman at (202) 547-4733 or bachmank@agc.org. [ return to top ]

  Defense Authorization Legislation Contains Major Contracting Reforms

The House and Senate have approved a sweeping set of acquisition reforms, some of which had been under consideration for the past two years. Provisions in the fiscal 2009 Defense authorization bill (S. 3001) would increase competition in contracting, tightening regulations on interagency procurements and mandate the establishment of a database to monitor companies that have faced criminal and civil actions.

The House passed the bill 392-39 on September 24 and the Senate approved it on September 27. President Bush is expected to sign it soon.

The bill would mandate a scaled-down version of the much-debated contractor misconduct database, which would house information on nearly all complete criminal, civil or administrative proceedings against contractors with awards in excess of $500,000. AGC and other industry groups opposed the provision, arguing that the information in the database might prove unreliable and should not be presented out of context. As a compromise, the provision's Democratic sponsors -- Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) -- agreed that only government officials would be granted access. The original bill would have opened the repository to the public.

The authorization bill also contains pieces of Rep. Henry Waxman's (D-CA) Clean Contracting Act, including a one-year limit on sole-source emergency procurements, a prohibition on excessive layering of subcontracts and a requirement for more competition for multiple award contracts.

An AGC-supported provision addressing the depleted acquisition work force was included in the legislation as well.

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

  AGC Receives Advance Draft Crane and Derricks Proposal
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sent advance draft copies of the Notice for Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for Cranes and Derricks on September 17.

To view the advanced draft copy of the proposal, please visit http://www.osha.gov/doc/proposedrule/Cranes_Derricks_Proposed_Rule.html. It is expected that the NPRM will be published in the Federal Register shortly. Once it is published, the general public will have 60 days to respond to the proposal.

AGC has a complete overview of the development of the Cranes and Derricks proposals online at http://www.agc.org/cs/cdac

For further information, please contact Michele Myers at (703) 837-5410 or myersm@agc.org. [ return to top ]

  AGC Awarded Susan Harwood Grant

On September 22, the Department of Labor (DOL) awarded AGC with the prestigious Susan Harwood Grant Training program for the seventh year in a row.

The Susan Harwood Training Grant is offered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) within DOL.  The grant is awarded on a competitive basis to organizations to provide safety and health training and education programs that focus on recognition, avoidance, and prevention of safety and health hazards in the workplace.

AGC will update and continue to deliver the Focus Four Hazards in Construction training.  This training seminar focuses on preventing frequently–cited construction hazards.  The Focus Four Hazards in Construction are conducted as one-day (eight–hour) awareness training seminars focusing on the four greatest dangers of working on a construction site–falls, electrocutions, caught–between and struck–by’s.  These seminars are held at Chapter locations nationwide beginning in December 2008.

Please visit Susan Harwood Grant Training for more information on the training program.  Dates and locations for the training seminars will be updated shortly.

For further information, please contact Michele Myers at (703) 837-5410 or myersm@agc.org. [ return to top ]