November 20, 2008
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INFRASTRUCTURE
Transportation Department Reports $3 Billion Loss to Highway Trust Fund
AGC Continues to Push for Infrastructure Funds in Economic Stimulus
ENVIRONMENT
EPA Rule Could Stop Future Construction Action Needed
ELECTIONS
Election Outcomes Not Finalized; AGC Continues to Support Senate Candidates
Leadership Changes Dominate Lame-Duck Session

  Transportation Department Reports $3 Billion Loss to Highway Trust Fund
The U.S. Department of Transportation reported Wednesday that Highway Trust Fund revenue fell by $3 billion in fiscal year 2008.  Americans drove 90 billion fewer miles, or 4.4 percent less, over the period September 2007 to September 2008.  As a result, the Highway Trust Fund collected only $31 billion in revenue, compared to $34 billion collected the previous year, while federal transportation spending increased by $2 billion.  September 2008 marked the 11th straight month of fewer miles driven. 

AGC supported legislation enacted in September to transfer $8 billion from the General Fund of the U.S. Treasury into the Highway Trust Fund to prevent a shortfall of receipts and prevent a reduction in states’ federal highway funding through the expiration of SAFETEA-LU on September 30, 2009.  Whether this fix will be sufficient will depend largely on driving trends over the next several months. 

For more information, contact Brian Deery at (703) 837-5319 or deeryb@agc.org. [ return to top ]

  AGC Continues to Push for Infrastructure Funds in Economic Stimulus
Although Congress has spent the past several days of the lame duck session considering a rescue package for the automotive industry, there is continued discussion about enacting an economic stimulus package with substantial investment in infrastructure as early as January 2009. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) have both expressed a desire to pass a stimulus package. President-elect Barack Obama said he supports a stimulus measure with substantial funding for infrastructure and that if one is not passed before Congress adjourns, it would be the first issue he tackles after his inauguration.

AGC will continue to press Members of Congress in Washington to enact an economic recovery package with infrastructure investment as soon as possible to prevent further job losses in the industry and to create additional job opportunities for contractors and their workers. Construction has always been an engine of economic stimulus and can play that role once again. It is important for you to use the tools on AGC’s Legislative Action Center to contact your congressional delegation and urge them to support infrastructure investment in an economic recovery package.

It is critical to continue educating your Members of Congress in the coming weeks about the important economic contributions offered by the construction industry. New and returning members of the 111th Congress need the benefit of your expertise to be fully educated on issues directly affecting the construction industry.

Please visit AGC’s Legislative Action Center and send a message to your elected officials.

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

  EPA Rule Could Stop Future Construction Action Needed
EPA is seeking public input on regulating greenhouse gas emissions from buildings and construction equipment. AGC and many other industry groups are mobilizing members and chapters to stop EPA. We can only do this by sending as many individual comments as possible in response to EPA’s Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) on using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

Members can submit customized comments easily using a template comment letter on the AGC web site. Comments must be customized and received by November 28, 2008 to count. Click here to submit your customized comments today.

AGC’s primary concern is that using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions could halt building construction and jeopardize funding for highway and transportation projects. Once EPA controls a greenhouse gas under almost any section of the Act, most buildings in the U.S. that emit that “pollutant” would become subject to costly and time-consuming permitting and construction requirements under EPA’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration program. Another section of the Act would require EPA to develop standards for greenhouse gas emissions that states would need to incorporate into their implementation plans. Penalties for noncompliance include the loss of funding for future highway projects. AGC also is concerned with several proposed new requirements regarding fuel use and types, manufacturing of new equipment, and operating of equipment.

AGC previously reported that the EPA planned to issue an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) to “discuss and solicit public input” on how to use the Clean Air Act to control greenhouse gas emissions. To read the full AGC article, which provides a background on the EPA’s decision to issue an ANPR and some of the potential impacts click here.

For more information, contact Melinda Tomaino at (703) 837-5415 or tomainom@agc.org. [ return to top ]

  Election Outcomes Not Finalized; AGC Continues to Support Senate Candidates

Two weeks after the election, two Senate races remain undecided.  In Minnesota, AGC-backed Senator Norm Coleman (R) and Democratic satirist Al Franken are separated by less than 250 votes. By Minnesota state law, a recount has been ordered and final results may not be known until the end of the year.  In Georgia, AGC-backed Senator Saxby Chambliss (R) received the most votes but fell short of the 50% threshold necessary to avoid a run-off against Jim Martin (D). A special election is scheduled for December 2. 

AGC PAC supported both Coleman (R) and Chambliss (R) with the maximum level of support during the election cycle and has continued to support them during the recount and run-off respectively.  To learn more about these construction-friendly candidates and make contributions, visit http://twoseats.nrsc.org.

Democrats now enjoy a 58-40 majority after Mark Begich (D) was declared the winner this week in Alaska against seven-term incumbent Ted Stevens (R), bringing the Democrats closer to the 60-vote, filibuster proof majority. The races in Minnesota and Georgia remain the only undecided Senate seats.

For more information contact Elisa Brewer at (202) 547-5013 or brewere@agc.org. [ return to top ]

  Leadership Changes Dominate Lame-Duck Session
Meetings for party leadership elections and respective Democratic and Republican caucuses in the House and Senate dominated behind-the-scenes during this week’s lame-duck session.

In the Senate, a resolution to the fate of Senator Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) allowed him to remain chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee but forced him to relinquish his chairmanship of an Environment and Public Works subcommittee and his seat on the Committee. The move took place as a means of addressing concerns expressed by senior Senate Democrats about Senator Lieberman’s support for the Presidential candidacy of Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.).

In the House, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) has ousted Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. The House Democratic Caucus held a secret-ballot vote and ousted Rep. Dingell by a 137-122 vote of the Democratic Caucus. The vote was widely viewed as a referendum on the Caucus’ future approach to energy and climate policy, as well as a test of the seniority system the party has long used to select committee chairmen and ranking members. It also strengthens House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who stayed neutral but whose allies supported Waxman’s agenda that will likely address climate change, energy, healthcare and other priorities of President-elect Barack Obama. Rep. Dingell will stay on as chairman emeritus.

As a result of Rep. Waxman’s victory, Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) is widely expected to succeed outgoing Chairman Waxman on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee as Chairman. Towns is expected to face little opposition in his bid to succeed Waxman, who was very active in investigating the Bush Administration and supported sweeping contracting reform measures.

House Democrats voted on its leadership for the 111th Congress and chose the following:

• House Speaker: Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)
• Majority Leader: Steny Hoyer (D-Md.)
• Majority Whip: Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.)
• Democratic Caucus Chairman: John Larson (D-Conn.)
• Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman: Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.)
• Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman: Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)

In addition, House Republicans elected the following leaders for the 111th Congress:

• Republican Leader:  Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio)
• Republican Whip:  Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.)
• Conference Chairman:  Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.)
• Policy Committee Chairman:  Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.)
• Conference Vice-Chair:  Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.)
• Conference Secretary:  Rep. John Carter (R-Texas)
• National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman:  Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas)

The Senate Democratic Leadership for the 111th Congress is as follows:

• President Pro Tempore: Robert C. Byrd (D-W.V.)
• Assistant Majority Leader: Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)
• Conference of the Vice Chair: Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.)
• Conference Secretary: Patty Murray (D-Wash.)
• Policy Committee Chairman: Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.)
• Steering and Outreach Committee Chair: Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)
• Committee Outreach Chairman: Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.)
• Rural Outreach Chair: Blanche L. Lincoln (D-Ark.)
• Chief Deputy Whip: Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)
• Deputy Whip: Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.)
• Deputy Whip: Bill Nelson (D-Fla.)
• Deputy Whip: Russell D. Feingold (D-Wis.)

The Senate Republican Leadership for the 111th Congress is as follows:

• Republican Leader: Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
• Republican Whip: Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.)
• Republican Conference Chair: Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.)
• Republican Policy Committee Chairman: Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.)
• Republican Conference Vice Chair: John Thune (R-S.D.)
• National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman: John Cornyn (R-Texas)

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