Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.orgAugust 7, 2009
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On the Inside
TRANSPORTATION
2010 Transportation Appropriations Bill Progressing
FEDERAL
White House Announces First Wave of Federal Contracting Reforms
WATER
AGC Urges Members to Contact Senators to Support S. 1005
EPA Continues to Issue Buy America Waivers
STIMULUS
The Recovery Act Reaches 160 Day Milestone
HEALTH CARE
Congress Will Consider Health Care After August Recess
 
TRANSPORTATION
2010 Transportation Appropriations Bill Progressing
 

The Senate Appropriations Committee has now approved its version of the FY 2010 transportation appropriations legislation. The bill provides $42.5 billion for the highway program, a 4.4 percent increase over FY 2009 and transit program funding of $11.1, a nine percent increase over FY 2009.

The bill also provides $3.5 billion for the Airport Improvement Program, the same amount appropriated in the past two years. Previously, the House approved its version of the bill, which included lower amounts for highways ($41.1 billion) and transit ($10.5 billion). The Senate bill includes $1.2 billion for high-speed passenger rail improvements—$2.8 billion less than the amount in the House bill. While the appropriations bill is required, action to extend transportation program authorization – and provide additional Highway Trust Fund revenue beyond the $7 billion recently approved by the House and Senate – is necessary before the appropriated funds can be sent to the states.

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

FEDERAL
White House Announces First Wave of Federal Contracting Reforms
 

The White House on July 29 formally unveiled contracting and workforce reforms that are designed to save the taxpayers at least $40 billion a year. The reforms, released by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), focus on three areas: improving acquisitionmanaging the multi-sector workforce and contractor performance information.

Previously, President Obama established in a March 4 memorandum his principles for contracting reform, and charged the OMB with identifying the best approaches to accomplish his goals.

The guidance requires agencies to reduce contracts by a minimum of seven percent, with special focus on “high-risk” contracts, such as non-competitive contracts and cost-reimbursement contracts. The guidance also requires agencies for the first time to track contractor performance through a new unified database, the Past Performance Information Retrieval System (PPIRS) located at www.ppirs.gov. The White House reports that federal agencies will be able to check on a contractor’s past performance before signing a new contract with it. OMB will monitor their compliance with this requirement and will publicly release statistics on agency compliance.

The guidance on managing the multi-sector workforce lays out a new framework for managing the workforce that evaluates all the functions an organization performs to assess if an agency has achieved the best combination of public and private labor resources to serve the American people. Agencies will be required to pilot this new framework by examining at least one program, project or activity where the agency has concerns about over-reliance on contractors.

A second phase of contracting guidance is scheduled to be released in September. This next phase will focus on maximizing competition, choosing appropriate contract types, building the capacity of the federal acquisition workforce and clarifying when outsourcing is appropriate.

AGC will continue to engage with key Administration decision-makers and contracting leaders on Capitol Hill as these issues further develop.

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

WATER
AGC Urges Members to Contact Senators to Support S. 1005
 

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee staff have indicated that S. 1005, the Water Infrastructure Financing Act of 2009, will not come up for a vote before for the full Senate until legislators return from the August recess in September.

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. Annual dollars authorized for EPA SRF Programs are detailed in the chart below.

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

$14.7b

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.

AGC members are encouraged to contact their Senators to urge support of S.1005 using AGC’s Legislative Action Center.

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

EPA Continues to Issue Buy America Waivers
 

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) provides significant funding for states to finance high priority infrastructure projects needed to ensure clean water and safe drinking water. The Act also includes "Buy American" provisions that require Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) projects to use domestic iron, steel and manufactured goods. 

According to EPA officials, 10 individual project-specific Buy American Waivers have been granted for water infrastructure projects using Recovery Act Funds. The following list contains Buy America Waiver notices published in the Federal Register to date.

Project/Regional Waivers

7/28/2009 - Sharon Elementary School Water System, Sharon, Vermont

7/28/2009 - Lewiston, ME Department of Public Services

7/9/2009 - Claywood Park Public Service District, West Virginia

6/29/2009 - State of New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services’ Winnipesaukee River Basin Bureau

6/22/2009 - Auburn, Maine, Sewerage District

Nationwide Waivers

6/2/2009 - de minimis Incidental Components of Projects Financed Through the Clean or Drinking Water State Revolving Funds Using Assistance Provided Under ARRA

6/2/2009 - Projects that Solicited Bids on or after October 1, 2008 and prior to February 17, 2009 that are Financed through the Clean or Drinking Water State Revolving Funds using Assistance Provided under ARRA

4/7/2009 - Projects With Debt Incurred on or After October 1, 2008 and Before February 17, 2009 That Are Refinanced Through the Clean or Drinking Water State Revolving Funds Using Assistance Provided Under ARRA

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

STIMULUS
The Recovery Act Reaches 160 Day Milestone
 

The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure met on Friday, July 31, to examine progress to date on implementing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The hearing primarily addressed implementation efforts in non-transportation programs under the Committee's jurisdiction, including environmental, inland waterways and public buildings infrastructure. 

T&I Committee members received status  updates from agencies receiving Recovery Act dollars under its jurisdiction, including the EPA , U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the General Services Administration and Coast Guard. With the exception of the highway funds, Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.) and other members of the committee expressed deep concern with the lack of construction activity underway with Recovery Act dollars and the rate in which Recovery Act funds were translating into contracts. He further expressed consternation over the problems being caused by the ‘Buy American’ provisions inserted into the Recovery Act and the effect they were having on contracts getting put out to bid. AGC was among the first to identify these problems. Click here for video and additional information about the T&I "160 Day Report Card."

This comes on the heels of AGC CEO Steve Sandherr’s letter to 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, it is ready to put the Recovery Act to work.

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

HEALTH CARE
Congress Will Consider Health Care After August Recess
 

Despite the congressional recess, the President and Congress continue to work on health care. Just today, Senate Finance Committee members sat down with the President to discuss how to deliver a bipartisan bill.

Prior to the traditional summer break, the House was able to finish marking up H.R. 3200, America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, which will now be readied for floor debate in September.  The Senate is moving slower on health care but is expected to resume consideration in September.  As concern over the creation of a public option and the rising costs mount, Democrats are feeling pressure from voters on the principles in the House version of the bill, which may result in a Senate bill that is more bipartisan. 

The House bill creates health insurance exchanges, essential benefit packages that will mandate the benefits that must be offered, and insurance reform. It also expands Medicaid and includes a payroll tax for firms not offering minimum benefits. The bill also includes surtaxes on individuals to help offset the cost of the bill. Finally, the most controversial and expensive portion of H.R. 3200, is the public option, which is designed to compete with private insurance.

Based on AGC's analysis, 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 and encourages members to use the Legislative Action Center to write their congressional delegation and urge them to oppose the bill.

For more information, contact Jim Young at (202) 547-0133 or youngj@agc.org. Return to Top

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