AGC and Transportation Construction Coalition Fly-in Attracts 450
This group of highway contractors, suppliers and other interested parties gathered to hear from construction leaders and to lobby on construction funding issues. Every state was represented and the participants visited hundreds of congressional offices to lobby on the transportation reauthorization, the status of the highway trust fund, passage of the FAA authorization and reauthorization of the waste water and drinking water state revolving funds. Many AGC members also lobbied against the Employee Free Choice Act (or “card check”).
The group heard from Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.)and Ranking Republican John Mica (R-Fla.). Chairman of House Resources Committee Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) also addressed the group. All three leading decision makers addressed the reauthorization process and talked about a bill that could top $400 billion, focus on economic growth, congestion reduction and increased safety. The bill will likely also include comprehensive transportation planning and changes designed to speed up project delivery. A draft of the House bill will likely be unveiled in June with Committee action to follow. The Senate is on a slower schedule than the House.
House Passes Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization
The U.S. House of Representatives today is expected to pass H.R. 915, a bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funding and safety oversight programs for four years with a total authorized spending level of $70billion. The bill includes a total of $16.2 billion for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP), the primary source of federal funding for airport capital projects. The bill also increases the Passenger Facility Charge(PFC) on airline flights from $4.50 to $7.00, which is estimated to generate $1billion per year in additional revenue. These fees may be levied by airports to fund airport infrastructure investment.
The most recent multi-year authorization of the FAA expired on September 30,2007. The programs have been operating under a series of short-term extensions since that time. The Senate has not yet acted on reauthorization legislation this year.
AGC member Jim Andoga (Austin Bridge& Road) and new hire Willie Fort attended an event Thursday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., as guests of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
During his remarks, Secretary LaHood cited stimulus success stories, including Austin Bridge & Roads' new I-49project in Shreveport, La., and some he learned from AGC members during a meeting at the DOT headquarters May 20, which was covered by Reuters reporter Lisa Lambert.
The debate and speculation on the “so-called” Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) remains a top priority for AGC. The top Senate supporter of the bill,Senator Harkin (D-Iowa) has said that he is trying to work with Senator Specter(D-Pa.) to come up with a compromise on EFCA. If he were able to forge such a compromise, Sen. Harkin said that he would seek to push the “compromise”directly to the Senate floor without Committee hearings which would limit any attempt to amend the bill. If unable to come to a compromise, Sen.Harkin has called for the Senate to vote on legislation.
While there are rumors of a limited number of Senators working on a compromise, thedetails of any such compromise remain under wraps. Possible components of such a compromise could include of using post-cards instead of secret ballot elections, so-called “quickie” elections to be held within a certain timeframeand increasing access to the workplace by union organizers.
AGC remains firm in its belief that there can not be any compromise. We have a deep concern that even a genuine and well-intended proposal for a compromise could become a “Trojan horse” that EFCA’s proponents would simply use to sneak EFCA past a cloture vote in the Senate. Unless and until EFCA’s proponents completely and irreversibly abandon that legislation, the risk of a compromise becoming a “Trojan horse” for EFCA will remain too great for this industry to entertain any discussion of compromise.
Click here to send a letter of opposition on EFCA. Top target states are Arkansas, Virginia, Colorado, Louisiana and Nebraska. All Senators need to keep hearing about opposition to EFCA.
For more information, contact Kelly Knott at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee tonight is expected to pass a bill to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 83 percent from 2005 levels by 2050through a nationwide cap and trade program and a nationwide renewable energy standard. The vote follows four days of debate and partisan votes on amendments. Republicans on the panel opposed to the bill had readied as many as 450 amendments.
Last Friday, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calf.) released a 932-page revised bill that offers concessions to Democrats on the panel who expressed concerns over the cost of the bill to energy-intensive industries and consumers. As a result, the bill gives away 85 percent of the emission allowances for free, leaving just 15 percent of the allowances available for auction. President Obama has called for 100 percent auction of the allowances, although he supports the House bill. The electric utility industry wins most of the free allowances with 35 percent, while the pulp,paper, cement and steel industries were able to secure 15 percent of the free allowances. Even though the oil and gas industry represents about 30percent of U.S. emissions, the bill does little to address high fuel costs under the bill—refiners would only get 2 percent of the allowances for free starting in 2014 and ending in 2016.
Chairman Waxman will likely achieve his goal of approving a cap and trade bill prior to Memorial Day, but hurdles remain for House passage of the measure. The bill has been referred to eight other committees whose leadership and members may conduct additional hearings and amend the bill further. The Senate has yet to propose similar legislation. AGC will continue to monitor developments closely.
For more information, contact Karen Lapsevic at email@example.com. Return to Top
Health Care Reform Proposals Remain Underdevelopment
The debate over health care reform heats up with the both the House and Senate beginning to outline policy priorities. Congressional leaders in the House and Senate remain committed to finalizing legislation before the August recess.However, neither body has released a legislative proposal and they must compete for time to debate the legislation with other priorities such as climate change.
The Senate Finance Committee has released broad policy options to set the outline of comprehensive health care reform. The policy options in the reports covered costs in the health care delivery system, expanding coverage to all Americans and the financing of health reform. This week the financing of health reform policy options was the last report to be released prior to the drafting of the legislation. The options by the committee include: 1) reductions in current spending by reducing waste and inefficiencies; 2) modifying current tax treatment of health-related expenses including modifying the tax-free status of employer provided health coverage, modifying Health Savings Accounts and even the option of eliminating Flexible Spending Accounts; and 3) changing non-health tax provisions to promote wellness and health choices trough lifestyle changes. While the Finance committee has released broad policy options,it must be worked in with other committees before it can be formally introduced.
AGC and the AGC Health Care Task Force continue to await the release of legislative language before making formal recommendations to Congress.
For more information, contact Jim Young firstname.lastname@example.org.Return to Top
AGC Preparing Recovery Act Comments to FAR Council
On March 31, 2009, the FAR Councils issued a series of interim rules amending the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) in order to implement several key provisions set forth in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.On a finding of "urgent and compelling reasons," the interim rules were issued without any opportunity for prior public comment. The FAR Councils will, however, take into consideration public comments submitted on or before June 1, 2009 in formulation of the final rule.
Inorder to facilitate a dialogue between AGC members and the government, AGC hasset up a special portal located at the AGC Legislative Action Center and highlighted the key issues that must be addressed:
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) also issued its own guidance on April 23establishing government-wide guidance and standard award terms for agencies to include in financial assistance awards (namely, grants, cooperative agreements and loans) as part of their implementation of the Recovery Act. Public comments are due by June 22:
Due to the changing landscape in federal contracting, it is more important than ever that contractors - those experienced in federal work or those looking to move into the market - are aware of rule and regulation updates and the impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on the federal contracting process. This webinar series will continue to provide an overview of the existing process and walk attendees through the evolution of federal contracting.
Webinars will take place on successive Thursdays on May 28, June 4 and June 11 from 1:30PM - 3:00 PM (ET). Please click the links below for more information:
Next week Congress will enjoy a one week reprieve from a busy legislative calendar.Congressional leaders have indicated their intent to consider comprehensive health care reform legislation as well as climate change legislation prior to the August recess. Both issues will be contentious and will dominate the calendar in congress. As members of Congress return to their home states and districts next week it makes for a perfect opportunity for contractors to talk and work with them. AGC staff is available to help coordinate visits or supply additional information upon request.
For more information, contact Jim Young at email@example.com.
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