Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.orgJuly 31, 2009
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On the Inside
HEALTH CARE
Liberal Democrats and Blue Dogs Clash on Health Care
TRANSPORTATION
Senate and House Approve Highway Trust Fund Fix
STIMULUS
AGC Releases Stimulus Survey Results
AGC Contacts Federal Agency Heads Regarding Movement of Recovery Funds
WATER
Senate Action Imminent on S. 1005 - AGC Urges Members to Contact Senators
ENVIRONMENT
AGC Hosts Real Estate and Construction Group to Discuss Climate Change Impacts on Industry
SAFETY AND HEALTH
Administration Nominates David Michaels for Assistant Secretary of Labor at OSHA
FEDERAL
Energy and Water Appropriations Bill Passes Senate, Moves to Conference
 
HEALTH CARE
Liberal Democrats and Blue Dogs Clash on Health Care
 

Last week AGC expressed its opposition to the massive $1.5 trillion health care overhauls being debated in the House and Senate. AGC remains opposed to the bill because AGC members and their employees will face a nearly impossible task of keeping insurance coverage, paying for coverage and maintaining an acceptable level of coverage without being pushed into a national plan. As such, AGC currently opposes the health care reform proposals in Congress.

This week House negotiations between House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Blue Dog Democrats have achieved an outline of a deal that allows the Energy and Commerce Committee to continue to consider the bill. The outline of the deal with the Blue Dogs will separate reimbursement rates under Medicare from reimbursement rates under the public option included in the House bill. This will likely allow higher reimbursement rates in rural areas and for some specialties.

The deal also allow reduces the number of companies covered by the employer mandate to make  businesses with $500,000 or less in total payroll not subject to a tax penalty if they do not provide employees with insurance. The deal also reduces some of the costs to the federal government by saying that individuals will qualify for subsidies to buy insurance if they spend 12 percent of their income on premiums, not 11 percent as in the original bill. And states would be required to pick up seven percent of the cost of expanding Medicaid to everyone who makes 150 percent of poverty or less. The more liberal wing of the Democratic Party has attacked the deal with the Blue Dogs and will try to undo the deal. Speaker Pelosi is a very prominent member of that liberal wing and she is responsible for melding the 3 versions of the bill into a single bill for floor consideration in September.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee continues to work on the bill while liberal members of the House are attacking the deal with the Blue Dogs and may keep the bill from coming out of committee before adjournment. In the Senate the bipartisan group negotiating the bill includes Senators Baucus (D-Mont.), Grassley (R-Iowa), Conrad (D-N.D.), Enzi (R-Wyo.), Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Snowe (R-Maine). The group is under intense pressure from the President who calls Chairman Baucus daily asking for quick action and other members of the Senate Democratic Leadership who would like the Senate Finance Committee to complete action before the Senate adjourns next Friday for a 5 week break.

For more information, contact Jeff Shoaf at (703) 837-3350 or shoafj@agc.org.

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TRANSPORTATION
Senate and House Approve Highway Trust Fund Fix
 

By a vote of 79-17 the Senate passed legislation to transfer $7 billion of general fund revenue to the Highway Trust Fund to provide enough revenue to ensure state transportation departments will continue receiving full reimbursements for federal-aid highway projects through September, the end of the current federal fiscal year. The House approved the measure on Wednesday by a vote of 363-68. The bill now goes to the President who is expected to sign it.

In the Senate several amendments to the bill were defeated. Congress must still take action to extend spending authorization beyond September 30 when SAFETEA-LU expires. That issue will have to be addressed in September following the Congressional recess.

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



 

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STIMULUS
AGC Releases Stimulus Survey Results
 

AGC released results of a survey that measured the impact of stimulus funds on construction companies' ability to expand payrolls.  The survey found that stimulus construction funds have had little impact to date on companies' ability to hire new employees, but has helped companies save existing jobs.

The survey data was announced during a media conference call that included AGC’s CEO Steve Sandherr, chief economist Ken Simonson, and the following AGC contractor members.

Doug Pruitt, Sundt Construction

Art Daniel, AR Daniel Construction Services

Paul Diederich Industrial Builders

Phil Boelter Kraus-Anderson Construction

Don Weaver Weaver Bailey Construction

Deena Billings FNF Construction

Dave Higgins, HMH Builders

Tim Creson, Austin Bridge and Road

The news has been widely covered by outlets such as Reuters,Christian Science Monitor and The Washington Post.

Read AGC's press release here.

View the survey results.

View AGC's analysis.

Listen to the conference call during which the results were announced.

For more information, contact Brian Turmail at (703) 837-5310 or turmailb@agc.org.



 

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AGC Contacts Federal Agency Heads Regarding Movement of Recovery Funds
 

This week, AGC CEO Steve Sandherr contacted 27 federal agency heads concerning the pace that Recovery Act dollars are flowing through the agencies and in the form of contracts available for bid. With more than one million construction workers having lost their jobs over the past year, AGC expressed concerns that given the high unemployment rate that remains in the industry -- over one million employees, totaling 19 percent -- the industry is ready to put the Recovery Act to work.

AGC made inquiries as to whether there are schedules for letting work that we can begin to publicize, whether there are impediments to getting the work on the street that we can work to eliminate, and whether there is any information that we can provide the industry so that contractors are ready to bid these important projects.

AGC greatly values its partnerships with the federal agencies and we look forward to continuing to be a resource as we work together to ensure the recovery of our economy.

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



 

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WATER
Senate Action Imminent on S. 1005 - AGC Urges Members to Contact Senators
 

Key senate staff has indicated that S. 1005, the Water Infrastructure Financing Act of 2009, could be up for a vote for the full Senate’s consideration as early as next week. On Monday, July 27, AGC sent a letter to Senators indicating its support for S. 1005.  Click here to view the letter.

S.1005 authorizes $39.191 billion for EPA water infrastructure programs over the next five years, including: $20 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund Program and $14.7 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Program.

SRF

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

Total

Clean Water

$3.2b

$3.2b

$3.6b

$4b

$6b

$20b

Drinking Water

$1.5b

$2b

$2b

$3.2b

$6b

14.7

Other key programs funded in the bill include $1.8 billion for Sewer Overflow Grants, $1.43 billion for the Critical Drinking Water Infrastructure Grant Program, grants for reducing lead in drinking water and technical assistance for small, rural and disadvantaged communities.

S.1005 is the result of a true bi-partisan effort in the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee and AGC members are encouraged to contact their senators and urge their support of S.1005 by using the AGC Legislative Action Center.

For more information, contact Perry Fowler at (703) 837-5321 or fowlerp@agc.org.



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ENVIRONMENT
AGC Hosts Real Estate and Construction Group to Discuss Climate Change Impacts on Industry
 

AGC Wednesday hosted a meeting of real estate and construction stakeholders to discuss the impacts of legislative and regulatory efforts to regulate U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from stationary and mobile sources on the industry.  The meeting is the second AGC has convened with this group in the topic of climate change.

At the meeting, AGC’s CEO Steve Sandherr presented a discussion draft of guiding principles for climate change legislation for the real estate and construction industries and related groups to provide the framework for stakeholders interested in forming a coalition on this issue.  The draft document states concern that “new federal legislation and/or regulations intended to control GHG emissions could increase the cost of building operations, or otherwise deter new construction and/or the renovation of existing buildings and other facilities.”

In addition to identifying collective concerns with energy and climate change legislation before Congress and with regulatory efforts by the Obama Administration, the group is also working to identify recommendations for Congress to improve the bill.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2454) by a vote of 219-212 on June 26.  AGC opposed the measure due to the negative impacts the measure would have on the construction industry.  The Senate is expected to consider its version this fall. 

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



 

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SAFETY AND HEALTH
Administration Nominates David Michaels for Assistant Secretary of Labor at OSHA
 

The Administration announced Tuesday that David Michaels has been selected as the nominee for the Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.  This position requires a Senate confirmation, which has not yet been set.

Michaels is an epidemiologist, research professor and associate chairman in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services.  He directs the department’s doctoral program.  For more on Michaels, click here.

For more information, contact Kevin Cannon at (703) 837-5410 or cannonk@agc.org.



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FEDERAL
Energy and Water Appropriations Bill Passes Senate, Moves to Conference
 

On July 29, the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010 passed the full Senate by a vote of 85-9 with six senators not voting. This bill contains the FY2010 funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as well as the Bureau of Reclamation. The next step is for the House and Senate to reconcile the differences between the two in conference committee.

On July 8, the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee reported a $34.27 billion package that is $643 million below President Obama's budget request and nearly $476 million above the FY 2009 omnibus enacted level. The House Appropriations Committee reported its $33.3 billion bill on July 9. The Senate's bill would provide $5.4 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers, slightly less that the House figure of $5.54. This represents a modest increase of approximately $139 million over the FY 2009 and an approximate increase of $416 million over the Obama Administration's request of $5.1 billion.

The Bureau of Reclamation would receive $1.13 billion, slightly more than the House bill figure of $1.08 billion. This represents an approximately $38 million decrease from FY 2009, but an approximate $17 million increase above the administration request.

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 Congress.

To review the House FY 2010 Appropriations table click here.
To review the list of the House FY 2010 projects click here.
To read the House Bill Summary click here.
To read the Senate Bill Summary click here.

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



 

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