January 29, 2009
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STIMULUS
House Passes Stimulus Package; Senate Likely to Vote Next Week
AGC Pushes for Infrastructure Investment During Capitol Hill News Event
AGC Co-Hosts Construction Economic Outlook Webcast
LABOR
President Obama Signs Pay Discrimination Legislation Into Law
E-Verify Mandate for Federal Contractors Delayed Again

  House Passes Stimulus Package; Senate Likely to Vote Next Week
The House on Wednesday by a vote of 244 to 188 passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, better known as the Stimulus Package. The Senate is expected to take up its version next week. The Senate version differs from the House version in funding totals for significant programs. 

AGC members were at the forefront of this legislative struggle, sending nearly 10,000 letters, delivering a petition signed by over 3,000 supporters and making thousands of phone calls to Capitol Hill in support of the construction portion of this legislation. The package includes significant funding for all of the major construction markets, in most cases exceeding typical yearly appropriations. The funds generally have to be put to work in 180 days, with unobligated funds reprogrammed by their disbursing agencies. All funds in the bill are required to be spent within 2 years.

With the debate now in the Senate, we strongly urge you to reach out to your employees, your suppliers, your subcontractors and your local government and business community leaders to ask them to use the tools on the AGC Web site to contact your Senators. Visit www.agc.org/s1 for more information.

Highlights of the Stimulus Package
• Building Infrastructure Funding: Approximately $55 billion in Building Infrastructure, including: $6.7 billion for GSA buildings; $8.5 billion for Military Construction; and $1 billion for VA Construction – all distributed at the discretion of the particular federal agency of jurisdiction. This also includes $20 billion for K-12 School and Higher Ed Construction, distributed by Title I formulas for K-12 and by a new formula for Higher Ed.
• Highway and Transportation Infrastructure Funding: Over $46 billion for transportation infrastructure, including: $30 billion for bridge and highway funding, to be distributed by existing formulas, with a portion of the funds within each state being sub-allocated by population areas; $12 billion for transit funding, with new construction being distributed on a discretionary basis, and upgrades, repair, and other assistance being distributed according to existing formula; and $3 billion for Airport Improvement Grants, distributed on a discretionary basis.
• Water Infrastructure: More than $15 billion for Water Infrastructure, including: $4 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund; $2 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund; and $1.5 billion specifically set aside for Rural Water and Waste Disposal projects. Water Resources construction also includes $4.5 billion for the Corps of Engineers, and $500 million for the Bureau of Reclamation.
• Tax Provisions: Permanent repeal of 3 percent withholding tax on government contractors, extension of increased small business expensing, extension of the depreciation bonus, a 5-year carry-back of net operating losses, long term extension and modification of the renewable energy tax production credit, a tax credit bond option for state and local governments, and numerous bonding provisions for energy, school construction and economic development.

Other Provisions in the Bill
• Davis-Bacon Requirements: Any projects funded directly by or assisted in whole or in part by and through the Federal Government will have Davis-Bacon wage requirements. In addition, the bill calls for the application of Davis-Bacon to any projects funded by tax bonds.
• Buy American: The House bill mandates that iron and steel used in construction and repair projects funded under the bill be produced in the United States unless found to be prohibitively expensive (by increasing the cost of the total project by 25 percent).
• Federal Contracting Requirements: The Federal Acquisition Regulation shall apply to contracts awarded with funds in the Act.  Contracts are encouraged to be awarded as fixed-price contracts through the use of competitive procedures. Any contract awarded with such funds that is not fixed-price and not awarded using competitive procedures shall be posted in a special section of the website Recovery.gov.
• E-Verify: The House bill mandates the use of the “E-Verify” electronic verification system for all businesses receiving funds derived from the stimulus, including both direct federal and federal-aid projects. Efforts are underway to get this provision removed from the final bill. The Senate may consider an amendment that would create a more expansive E-Verify requirement. This issue will likely be addressed in the House-Senate conference on the bill. 

For more information visit the AGC website at www.agc.org/S1, or contact Jim Young at (202) 547-0133 or youngj@agc.org. [ return to top ]

  AGC Pushes for Infrastructure Investment During Capitol Hill News Event
AGC’s Ken Simonson spoke at a news conference on Capitol Hill January 27 in support of infrastructure investment as part of the stimulus package that passed the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday.  Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) hosted the event, which included representatives from the Change to Win Labor Federation, Information Technology Industry Council, AFL-CIO, Oracle Corp., and the National Electrical Contractors Association.

AGC chief economist Ken Simonson (left) and Representative Van Hollen (right).

Simonson stressed the importance of putting the nearly 900,000 construction workers who have lost their jobs since 2006 back to work.  AGC has advocated for infrastructure and public buildings investment long before yesterday’s vote, and Simonson’s urgings to turn a grim situation into an opportunity clearly left a mark. 

Simonson’s remarks were recorded by several media outlets, including Dow Jones.  View his comments here.

For more information, contact Ken Simonson at (703) 837-5313 or simonsonk@agc.org. [ return to top ]

  AGC Co-Hosts Construction Economic Outlook Webcast
More than 4,500 people registered for the January 27 webcast titled “Have We Hit Bottom?”  AGC and Reed Construction Data hosted the webcast, featuring AGC’s chief economist Ken Simonson and Jim Haughey, who discussed the U.S. construction market, key trends and a look ahead.

Simonson’s comments were recorded in several outlets, including The Dallas Morning News. The webcast is available for download here. (Registration is free, but required.)

For more information, contact Carrie Harper at (703) 837-5316 or haperc@agc.org. [ return to top ]

  President Obama Signs Pay Discrimination Legislation Into Law
President Obama signed into law the first bill of his Presidency this morning.  The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act restarts the filing period for a discriminatory act each time a paycheck is issued and potentially expands the class of people able to bring discrimination claims against the employer. 

The House of Representatives took up and passed the Senate version of the legislation this week and sent it quickly over to the White House.  

For more information, contact Kelly Knott at knottk@agc.org or (202) 547-4685. [ return to top ]

  E-Verify Mandate for Federal Contractors Delayed Again
The federal government has agreed to further delay implementation of a rule requiring federal contractors and subcontractors to use the Department of Homeland Security’s E-Verify system to verify employment eligibility until May 21.  An official announcement is expected to be published in the Federal Register on January 30.

The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council issued the final rule on November 14, 2008, requiring contracting officers to mandate contractor use of E-Verify in solicitations issued and contracts awarded after January 15, 2009.  In response to a legal challenge to the rule, the government agreed two weeks ago to suspend the rule until February 20.  Yesterday, the government agreed to delay implementation until May 21.  The plaintiffs in the lawsuit requested the extension after President Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel issued a memorandum directing federal agencies to consider extending by 60 days the effective dates of all regulations already issued but not yet in effect, in order to allow the new Administration a chance to review any “questions of law and policy raised.”

Click here for a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) for Federal Contractors & E-Verify. Visit the AGC Web site for critical components of the final rule.

For more information, contact Denise Gold at (703) 837-5326 or goldd@agc.org. [ return to top ]