Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.orgJune 25, 2009
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On the Inside
ENVIRONMENT
Action Needed! House to Vote on Cap and Trade Legislation Friday
TRANSPORTATION REAUTHORIZATION
Congress Begins to Address Surface Transportation Reauthorization, Far From Consensus
STIMULUS
AGC Submits Recovery Act Comments to OMB; Agency Releases New ARRA Guidance
FEDERAL
House Energy and Water Subcommittee Approves FY 2010 Funding Package for Army Corps, Bureau of Reclamation
House Appropriators Approve FY 2010 Funding Package for Military Construction and Veterans Affairs
LABOR
Comprehensive Immigration Reform A Main Topic Today
Debate on Health Care Continues
House Committees Begin Deliberations on Pension Relief
 
ENVIRONMENT
Action Needed! House to Vote on Cap and Trade Legislation Friday
 

The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote Friday on the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), a bill that would require “cap and trade” and other regulatory schemes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from stationary and mobile sources.  AGC supports reasonable climate change policies that would reduce GHG emissions while maintaining the competitiveness of U.S. companies in the global marketplace.  While there may be opportunities for the construction industry under the bill to contribute towards building a clean energy economy, on the whole, AGC believes that the bill as it is currently drafted would increase the cost of construction, discourage investment in our economy and impact our ability to meet the infrastructure and mobility needs for a growing population.  AGC sent a letter to Capitol Hill June 25 in opposition to ACES as currently drafted.

AGC urges all members and Chapters to weigh in with their Representatives and urge them to oppose the bill.  For more information and to send a letter to your Representative, please use AGC’s Legislative Action Center

For more information, contact Karen Lapsevic at (202) 547-4733 or lapsevick@agc.org. Return to Top

TRANSPORTATION REAUTHORIZATION
Congress Begins to Address Surface Transportation Reauthorization, Far From Consensus
 

Congress began the process of addressing the Surface Transportation Reauthorization bill that expires on September 30. Three committees delved into the issue this week: the House Ways and Means Subcommittee examined surface transportation needs; Senate Environment Public Works Committee considered an 18 month extension; and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee approved a six year transportation reauthorization.

However, the chambers and committees have different approaches and goals. AGC supports additional funding to ensure Highway Trust Fund solvency and passage of a multi-year surface transportation reauthorization before September 30.

The House Subcommittees on Oversight and Select Revenue Measures held a hearing on highway and transit investment needs in the short- and long-term.  The hearing was the first of an expected series of hearings to consider revenue options not only to fund the short-term Highway Trust Fund solvency crisis, but also to pay for a multi-year surface transportation reauthorization bill.  U.S. Department of Transportation Undersecretary for Policy Roy Kienitz testified that the Highway Account of the Highway Trust Fund will require an additional $5-7 billion in order to pay all of its bills on time through the end of the current fiscal year ending September 30, and that $8-10 billion is needed to cover the anticipated cash shortfall through FY 2010. Finally, he recommended that Congress enact an 18-month extension of the current surface transportation authorization along with a $20 billion cash infusion to sustain the Highway Trust Fund through March 2011, delaying consideration of a multi-year reauthorization bill.

The House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit approved a $450 billion, six-year surface transportation authorization bill to replace SAFETEA-LU.  The proposal would shift additional funds to transit projects as well as dedicate $50 billion for high-speed passenger rail initiatives to be funded outside the Highway Trust Fund. The legislation lacks details on a financing mechanism as well as other policy changes.

In the Senate, many Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee leaders support an 18-month extension of authorization for the federal highway and transit, but oppose including policy objectives in the short term extension. The exception would be Senator George Voinovich (R-Ohio), who aggressively supports the six year option that was marked up in the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee yesterday.

For more information, contact Brian Deery at (703) 837-5319 or deeryb@agc.org. Return to Top

STIMULUS
AGC Submits Recovery Act Comments to OMB; Agency Releases New ARRA Guidance
 

On June 22, AGC submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) written comments for consideration in the interim final regulation on federally-assisted projects. These projects would include building, highway and municipal and utility projects funded by the stimulus. 

In addition, OMB that same day published Implementing Guidance for the Reports on Use of Funds Pursuant to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 ("Recovery Act"). This guidance details the reporting requirements included in Section 1512 of the Recovery Act for recipients of grants, loans and other forms of assistance. The reports required by Section 1512 will be submitted by recipients beginning in October 2009 and will provide information to the government, such as:

·         Who is receiving Recovery Act dollars and in what amounts?

·         What projects or activities are being funded with Recovery Act dollars?

·         What is the completion status of such projects or activities and what impact have they had on job creation and retention?

The reporting framework in the referenced guidance has been updated and enhanced to capture additional spending data from prime recipients and sub-recipients of federal financial assistance Recovery Act awards. Further, OMB has deployed a nationwide data collection system at the website www.FederalReporting.gov that will reduce the information reporting burden on recipients by simplifying reporting instructions and providing a user-friendly mechanism for submitting required data.

To read AGC's comments to OMB, click here.
To read the OMB Memorandum and Guidance Document click here.
To view the Recipient Reporting Data Model - Template, Data Dictionary, XML Schema, click here.
To read the List of Programs Subject to Recipient Reporting, click here.

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

FEDERAL
House Energy and Water Subcommittee Approves FY 2010 Funding Package for Army Corps, Bureau of Reclamation
 

On June 25, the House Energy & Water Development Subcommittee reported a $33.3 billion bill funding the Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation and the Department of Energy for FY 2010. This funding amount represents a decrease of $1.1 billion below the President’s budget request and $39 million above the amount appropriated in FY 2009.

The total amount approved for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works program is $5.541 billion for FY 2010. This represents a modest increase of $139 million over the FY 2009 and an increase of $416 million over the Obama Administration’s request of $5.1 billion.

The Bureau of Reclamation would receive $1.08 billion in funding for FY 2010, representing a $38 million decrease from FY 2009, but a $17 million increase above the Administration request.

Representative Ed Pastor (D-Ariz.), the acting Subcommittee Chairman, addressed concerns about the insolvency of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, stating that if this issue is not addressed, “…the level of investment must be adjusted to the available resources—resulting in increased costs to existing projects as they are suspended, as well as the deferral of new projects in need of recapitalization. The bill urges the Administration to pursue this issue with the relevant authorizing committees.”

AGC will continue to advocate for increased investment in the water resources development missions of the Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation as this legislation continues through the House and Senate process.

To review the FY 2010 Appropriations table click here.
To review the list of FY 2010 projects click here.
To read Acting Chairman Pastor’s Statement click here.

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

House Appropriators Approve FY 2010 Funding Package for Military Construction and Veterans Affairs
 

On June 23, 2009, the House Appropriations Committee approved a Military Construction and Veterans Affairs funding bill that totals $77.9 billion for FY 2010. This is $239 million more than the President’s request and $5.0 billion more than fiscal year 2009. The bill provides $48.2 billion in advance appropriations for fiscal year 2011 for three medical accounts of the Department of Veterans Affairs: Medical Services; Medical Support and Compliance; and Medical Facilities, and also provides $24.6 billion for the Military Construction, Family Housing and BRAC programs.

The Military Construction portion of the bill fully funds BRAC 2005 at $7.5 billion, provides an increase of $140 million for BRAC 1990 to enhance the cleanup of installations closed in prior BRAC rounds and provides for the modernization of training facilities, as well as the building of child care centers, barracks and homes. It also provides funds to support additional requirements for operations in Afghanistan at $1.4 billion. This bill includes two major military construction initiatives: $450 million to accelerate the Army’s program to modernize troop housing facilities for trainees; and $200 million for a Guard and Reserve initiative to address critical unfunded requirements. This funding will go toward critical unfunded requirements for Army and Air National Guard, as well as the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force Reserves.

The VA portion of the bill provides $1.9 billion for Department of Veterans Affairs construction, $127 million above the budget request and $256 million above 2009. The bill will provide needed funding for five ongoing major construction projects, planning and design funding for seven new projects, and funding for approximately 100 minor construction projects that can be completed in fiscal year 2010. The National Cemetery Administration is funded at $250 million, an increase of $20 million above the fiscal year 2009 appropriation and $8 million above the budget request.

AGC strongly supports increased investment in our nation’s military programs and veterans’ facilities and will continue to advocate for increased funding as the bill moves to the Senate for additional consideration.

To review the FY 2010 Appropriations table click here.
To review the list of FY 2010 projects click here.
To read Chairman Edwards’ Statement click here.

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

LABOR
Comprehensive Immigration Reform A Main Topic Today
 

On June 25, President Obama sat down with a cross section lawmakers from Capitol Hill to discuss comprehensive immigration reform.  The goal of the meeting was to discuss ideas, gauge the interest of Congress on tackling this issue again and to talk about possible timelines for action. This comes the day after a speech by Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration, announcing the principles he would like to have in any comprehensive immigration reform bill, including:

·         Curtailing illegal immigration,
·         Control of the borders,
·         Bio-metric based employer verification system,
·         Registration of illegal aliens currently in the U.S. to begin the process of converting to legal status,
·         Family reunification,
·         Encouragement of bringing highly skilled immigrants to the U.S., and
·         More managed flow of those lower skilled coming into the country. 

While the President is committed to comprehensive immigration reform, AGC and others in the business community are deeply concerned about the direction the debate will take on some key issues, including how to enact a mandatory, accurate verification system, the development of a future flow program and employer enforcement.

AGC remains a steering committee member of the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition (EWIC) and continues to talk to Congress about the need for workable immigration reform that includes a new future flow visa program to be determined by the needs of the market. 

For more information, contact Kelly Knott at (703) 837-4685 or knottk@agc.org. Return to Top

Debate on Health Care Continues
 

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee continues the process of working through their draft health care reform bill and will continue in July after the congressional recess. The committee is expected to address the more controversial components of the legislation at that time.  The Senate Finance Committee had intended to begin debating their own version of health care reform legislation but they have postponed the debate until July.  The committee leaders continue to work on the draft in an attempt to find bipartisan support.  The initial cost projections from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office have complicated the debate.

In the House, the three committees of jurisdiction, Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce and Education and Labor Committees, released their own draft legislation this week. AGC will provide comments to the committees on the impact of the employer mandate on the industry.

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

House Committees Begin Deliberations on Pension Relief
 

The House Education and Labor Committee Wednesday approved H.R. 2989, the 401(k) Fair Disclosure and Pension Security Act of 2009.  In his opening statement, Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.) remarked that the defined benefit provisions—both single and multiemployer—are “placeholders” for more comprehensive relief to be included at a later date.  Single and multiemployer pension plans are seeking assistance from Congress to deal with the consequences of falling plan values due to the economic downturn.

With regard to multiemployer plan relief, the bill would extend the amortization periods for a multiemployer plan by five years.

Also this week, Congressman Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.)—a member of the House Ways and Means Committee— released a “discussion draft” of various funding proposals designed to help define benefit plans, both single and multiemployer.  The draft’s multiemployer pension relief provisions include the following: 1) allow multiemployer plans to elect a one-time fresh start of the Funding Standard Account, with the sum of the outstanding balances amortized over a single 30-year period, effective starting with the 2009 or 2010 plan year; 2) extend the Rehabilitation Period and the Funding Improvement Period by five years; 3) facilitate the merger of multiemployer pension funds through the creation of multiemployer pension “alliances”; and 4) ease adoption of Rehabilitation or Funding Improvement Plan as the Default Schedule.

AGC is working with a broad coalition of multiemployer plan stakeholders coordinated by the National Coordinating Committee on Multiemployer Plans (NCCMP) to enact temporary relief for contributing employers who may otherwise face huge contribution increases, as well as to begin discussions on long-term reforms to defined benefit plans. 

For more information, contact Karen Lapsevic at (202) 547-4733 or lapsevick@agc.org. Return to Top

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