Contruction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.orgApril 9, 2009
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On the Inside
CONGRESS
Congressional Break Gives AGC Opportunity to Deliver Message at Home
STIMULUS
OMB Publishes Updated Guidance to Agencies for Implementing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
HEALTH CARE
AGC Prepares for Health Care Debate
CARD CHECK
Congressional Support for Card Check Wanes, AGC Maintains Opposition
ELECTIONS
Recent Election Updates
IMMIGRATION
Immigration Expected to be Addressed This Year
Legislation to Change the H2B Visa Program Expected
 
CONGRESS
Congressional Break Gives AGC Opportunity to Deliver Message at Home
 

On Monday, Congress began its traditional two-week district work period. As members of Congress return to their home states and districts, it makes for a perfect opportunity for contractors to talk and work with them. At the direction of their leadership, Democrats will stress the need for health care reform and Republicans will highlight the economy. AGC has created toolkits for members to use during local meetings.

For more information, contact Jim Young at (202) 547-2133 or youngj@agc.org. Return to Top

STIMULUS
OMB Publishes Updated Guidance to Agencies for Implementing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
 

In addition to the guidance to Federal contractors issued by the FAR Councils last week, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) published Implementing Guidance for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This updated guidance applies to Recovery projects that are federally-assisted (grants, SRF loans, etc.) rather than directly funded by the federal government. It seeks to clarify many key positions including the applicability of Buy America provisions, and reporting requirements. Updates to the guidance are based on ongoing input received from the public, Congress, state and local government officials, grant and contract recipients and federal personnel.

AGC is currently reviewing this guidance in detail to determine its impact on construction contractors performing work funded by the recovery plan and will update AGC members on the findings.

For more information, contact Marco Giamberardino at (703) 837-5325 or giamberm@agc.org. Return to Top

HEALTH CARE
AGC Prepares for Health Care Debate
 

Congressional leaders and President Obama recently announced that health care reform is a top legislative priority and they will begin crafting health care reform legislation in the coming weeks.  Members of Congress are using the two-week district work period to hold town hall events focused on evaluating the national debate on comprehensive health care reform.

It is expected that Congress will work towards an August timeline to hold votes on reform, which gives them several months to hold hearings with key stakeholders and to develop a proposal.  The two main issues Congress must overcome are expanding government-provided insurance while winding down employer-provided insurance, or expanding private and employer-provided insurance.   Congress must also determine if they will attempt to pass a comprehensive proposal or if they will move toward incremental reform. Regardless of the decision, the industry can expect attempts at changing the current process.

In response to the priority given to reform in Congress, AGC has formed a task force with the goal of establishing AGC’s policy positions on health care reform. The proposals crafted by Democratic leaders are expected to include tax increases on business and increased government mandates on employers. AGC will need to evaluate the proposals and begin advocating for a proposal that will generate affordable, quality healthcare through broader coverage, choice and competition in the marketplace.

For more information, contact Jim Young at (202) 547-2133 or youngj@agc.org. Return to Top

CARD CHECK
Congressional Support for Card Check Wanes, AGC Maintains Opposition
 

The debate on card check has heated up and changed direction. On Monday, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) announced her opposition to the Card Check bill and said she would vote against even considering the bill in the Senate.  Lincoln joined Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) in opposition to the legislation, and coupled with Sen. Arlen Specter’s (R-Penn.) announcement last week that he will not support Card Check, proponents of the bill are 4 votes shy of what they need to advance it in the Senate.   Some union Card Check supporters acknowledge their setbacks and are now talking about considering “significant labor law reforms.” Card Check supporters in Congress continue to push the bill and have yet to consider any other option.

AGC remains fully opposed to Card Check and considers work towards a compromise as a “Trojan horse” that would likely be used to advance the full Card Check bill during Senate consideration.  Also, the business community remains united in opposition to the legislation.

To join AGC in opposition to Card Check, visit the Legislative Action Center to send a letter to your representatives.

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

Above: Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln met with AGC member contractors at the Arkansas Chapter offices in Little Rock on April 7. The meeting allowed AGC members to thank the Senator for her opposition to card check . Return to Top

ELECTIONS
Recent Election Updates
 

Updates on elections in Illinois, New York and Minnesota.

IL-05 Special Election
Newly elected Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) earned a 69-24 percent victory over Republican Rosanna Pulido in the seat formerly held by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.  Quigley will officially be sworn in April 21, when the House returns from the spring recess. Though he does not have committee assignments yet, Quigley's work on environmental, infrastructure and transit issues might make him a fit for the Energy and Commerce and Transportation and Infrastructure Committees.

NY-20 Special Election
According to the New York State Board of Elections, Republican Jim Tedisco leads Democrat Scott Murphy by 24 votes while counties complete the recanvassing of their voting machines. Counties in the 20th District will be able to begin counting absentee ballots today, and military and overseas ballots can be returned by Monday.

MN Senate
Democrat Al Franken’s lead over Sen. Norm Coleman in the Minnesota race widened to 312 votes yesterday – a gain of 87 – due to a court-supervised count of 351 additional absentee ballots, a fraction of the ballots Coleman requested to be counted. The candidates are awaiting a three-judge panel’s final decision in St. Paul, Minn., on Coleman’s challenge to the earlier recount that put Franken ahead in the race. Should Coleman lose, he could appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court and, ultimately, ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear his equal protection argument. Democrats control the U.S. Senate 58-41, and a win by Franken would put them one vote short of the 60 needed to overcome filibusters that can stall legislation. 

For more information, contact Elisa Brewer Pratt at (703) 837-5013 or brewere@agc.org. Return to Top

IMMIGRATION
Immigration Expected to be Addressed This Year
 

This week, the White House made comments on the subject of comprehensive immigration reform.  The President will travel to Mexico at the end of April and is expected to make more official comments in May about the general approach the Administration will take on this issue.  Despite the long list of items the White House wishes to accomplish in 2009, an advisor to the President said that they want to at least start the debate this year. 

AGC supported comprehensive immigration reform during the 110th Congress to create better control over U.S. borders and provide better interior enforcement against unscrupulous employers. AGC advocates for the creation of a new guestworker program in which all labor and employment laws apply.

Though the current economic climate makes it difficult for Congress to discuss this issue, AGC will remain in this discussion and track developments closely.  The issues of employment verification, employer enforcement, changes to the visa programs in our country and the development of any future flow program remain on the agenda.

For more information, contact Kelly Knott at (202) 547-4685 or knottk@agc.org. Return to Top

Legislation to Change the H2B Visa Program Expected
 

Draft legislation to change the H2B Visa program has been circulated and is expected to be introduced in the House at the end of April.   The H2B Visa is currently the only visa available to the construction industry to bring in workers from outside the U.S.  It is a visa that is shared with numerous other industries with only 66,000 permitted each year.  Though the industry may not have as much of a need for these visas at the current time, the changes being suggested would have a huge impact on the program for years to come should this bill be passed into law. 

The legislation that is expected to be introduced would make it much more difficult for the construction industry to be able to qualify for such visas.  Companies would have to register with the Department of Labor, prove the seasonal nature of the job they are seeking, gather written certification from labor unions that there are not sufficient U.S. workers available, follow a myriad of new labor requirements and ultimately would be unable to participate if they subcontract.   AGC will remain in conversations with appropriate Capitol Hill staff as debate moves forward on this expected legislation.

For more information, contact Kelly Knott at (202) 547-4685 or knottk@agc.org. Return to Top

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