Showdown on Highway Authorization Extension Likely Next Week
SAFETEA-LU authorization scheduled to expire on September 30, action is
necessary to keep the highway and transit programs operating. House
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.)
announced his intention to move a 3-month extension this week out of Committee
with floor consideration next week.
Oberstar opposes a longer extension because he believes it will undermine
efforts to enact a six-year reauthorization bill. The Senate is preparing to
bring to the floor legislation to extend the programs for 18 months until March
2011. Senate committees have already passed the needed legislation, including
the Finance Committee, which included a $20 billion transfer from the general
fund to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent for the eighteen month extension.
The Senate is supporting the administration’s request to hold off on a
multi-year extension until 2011.
more information, contact Brian Deery at (703) 837-5319 or email@example.com.
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Senate Passes FY 2010 Transportation Appropriations Bill
This afternoon the Senate passed their FY 2010 Department of Transportation
Appropriations legislation by a vote of 73-25. The $67.7 billion bill
funds the Department of Housing and Urban Development and provides $42.5
billion for the federal-aid highway program, an increase of over $1.5 billion
from the FY 2009 level, and includes $11.1 billion for transit investments, $480 million above
the President’s request. The bill also provides $3.5 billion for the Airport
Improvement Program, the same amount appropriated for the past two years.
The House bill, which was passed in July, provides slightly less funding for
highways, transit and high-speed rail improvements. House and Senate
negotiators will now begin to conference their respective bills to address the
differences in funding levels.
For more information, contact Sean
O’Neill at (202) 547-8892 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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New Health Care Reform Bill Emerges
After months of
negotiations, the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Max Baucus (D-Mont.),
unveiled the “America’s Healthy Future Act” this week. The bill was unveiled
without any Republican support and may fail to receive the 60 votes necessary
to overcome a filibuster. This bill marks the final major health care reform
bill to be released this year. Although three committees in the House passed
H.R. 3200, “America's Affordable Health Choices Act” in July, the bills have
not yet been meshed together and floor time has not been reserved for a vote by
the full House. Meanwhile, the Senate HELP committee passed the “Affordable
Health Choices Act,” which will ultimately have to be merged with the Finance
Committee’s bill. The president hopes to have a final bill to sign into
law before the end of the year.
The three main
bills contain key differences and to date AGC has only opposed the House’s
“America's Affordable Health Choices Act.” The House bill fails to address the
root cause of rising costs, will likely eliminate competition and restricts
economic growth with punitive penalties for employers. The
Finance Committee’s bill appears to be the best effort yet to lower health care costs,
increase coverage and improve the quality of care. However, the bill includes significant cuts to doctors under Medicare and new tax on employer-provided health care benefits, and it fails to properly address medical malpractice
insurance. AGC hopes that Congress can find a bipartisan bill for health care reform.
Comparing the bills
Committee: creates co-ops to purchase health care that operate at the regional,
state and national level. Insurers cannot reject applicants based on pre-existing
conditions or renewals. All individuals are required to have health insurance
and it can be purchased through exchanges. The mandate comes with subsides for
low income individuals and tax penalties for individuals who fail to purchase
coverage. There is no employer mandate. Employers with over 50 employees that
do not offer coverage must reimburse the government for each employee receiving
health care subsidies.
Committee: creates a public plan option to compete with private insurance.
Insurers cannot reject applicants based on pre-existing conditions or renewals.
All individuals are required to have health insurance and can purchase coverage
through exchanges. The bill includes subsides for low income individuals and
tax penalties for individuals who fail to purchase coverage. The HELP
Committee’s plan contains an employer mandate for employers with over 25
employees, and failure to provide adequate coverage results in a $750 penalty
for each uninsured full time worker each year. The plan makes tax credits
available for small employers to purchase insurance.
(House Bill): creates a public plan to compete with private insurance. Insurers
cannot reject applicants based on pre-existing conditions or renewals. All
individuals are required to have “acceptable health coverage” that can be purchased
through new exchanges and subsides are made available for low income
individuals, while tax penalties exist for individuals who fail to purchase
coverage. The House bill includes an employer mandate for employers with
payrolls exceeding $500,000 and includes a payroll tax penalty ranging from 2
to 8 percent. The plan includes some tax credits for the smallest of employers.
information, contact Jim Young at (202) 547-0133 or email@example.com.
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Specter Raises Possibility of Card Check Compromise
In an address to
the AFL-CIO convention on Tuesday, Senator Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) unexpectedly
announced that some senators had come up with a “compromise” on the Employee
Free Choice Act (EFCA) and that it would pass this year. This announcement
remains more wishful thinking on the part of top EFCA supporters as no official
compromise has been made and there are not enough votes in the Senate to stop a
filibuster at this time. The small group of pro-EFCA senators has been trying
to find a compromise to the card check provision, and it is believed that any
compromise would still require mandatory arbitration, among other items opposed
by AGC. AGC remains opposed to
compromise on this bill as it is likely to be used as a Trojan Horse to pass
EFCA in its current form.
It is important
to continue communicating your opposition to elected officials on the Employee
Free Choice Act, any compromise or cloture in the Senate on the bill. Please use the AGC Legislative
Action Center to send a letter to your members of congress in opposition to
Card Check or any compromise.
The key Senate
information, contact Kelly Knott at (202) 547-4685 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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AGC Looks at Climate Bill H.R. 2454: Title IV Transitioning to a Clean Energy Economy
fourth and final installment of AGC’s summary of the American Clean Energy and
Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2454) explains the major provisions of Title IV
(Transitioning to a Clean Energy Economy) of interest to the construction
Subtitle A – Ensuring
Real Reductions in Industrial Emissions
purpose of this section of the bill is to safeguard the competitiveness of U.S.
manufacturing industries against foreign companies not subject to comparable
emissions regulation in two ways. The
first would compensate eligible domestic industrial sectors and subsectors for
compliance costs incurred under the bill through an Emission Allowance Rebate
Program. The Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) would determine which facilities should be eligible for rebates
through a rule based on an assessment of economic factors, including 1) the energy
or greenhouse gas intensity in a sector and 2) the trade intensity in such
sectors. The second would require the
president in 2020 to impose on importers a requirement to submit emissions
allowances if there is no international agreement in place by 2018 that would
ensure globally coordinated reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. In the absence of an international agreement,
the importer allowance requirement could be waived only if Congress passes a
joint resolution approving the president’s decision to do so.
Subtitle B – Green
section would authorize additional funding for the Energy Efficiency and
Renewable Energy Worker Training Program from $125 million to $150 million
annually. It would allow the Secretary
of Education to award competitive grants to partnerships for the creation of
curricula “focused on emerging careers and jobs in the fields of clean energy,
renewable energy, energy efficiency, and climate change mitigation, and climate
change adaptation.” The bill would
establish a publicly-available, web-based information and resources
clearinghouse to assist with career and technical education and job training in
the renewable energy sector. Finally,
the bill would establish a Green Construction Careers demonstration project “to
promote middle class careers and quality employment practices in the green
construction sector among targeted workers and to advance efficiency and
performance on construction projects….”
Subtitle C – Consumer
section would provide an Energy Tax Credit and Energy Refund Program to
compensate low-income households for any reduction in purchasing power due to
price increases in energy and other goods and services resulting from the bill.
Subtitle E – Adapting
to Climate Change
section would create a National Climate Change Adaptation Program within the
U.S. Global Change Research Program. It
would establish a National Climate Service within the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to develop climate information, data,
forecasts, and warnings, and to distribute information on climate impacts to
state and local decision makers. The
bill would distribute emission allowances to states for implementation of
adaptation projects, programs or measures contingent on the completion of an
approved State Adaptation Plan. Eligible
projects include those designed to respond to extreme weather events such as
flooding or hurricanes, changes in water availability, heat waves, sea level
rise, ecosystem disruption and air pollution.
bill states that it is the policy of the U.S. government to use all practicable
means and measures to assist natural resources to adapt to climate change and
establishes a Natural Resources climate Change Adaptation Panel, chaired by the
White House Council on Environmental Quality, as a forum for interagency
coordination on natural resources adaptation.
The Panel would be required to develop a Natural Resources Climate
Change Adaptation Strategy, and federal agencies, as well as states, would be
required to develop adaptation plans.
The bill would also establish a National Resources Climate Change
Adaptation Fund for a variety of adaptation activities consistent with these
What Can Members Do?
information, contact Karen Lapsevic at (202) 547-4733 or email@example.com.
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AGC Member Testifies for Hearing on Government Contracting
member Joel Zingeser (Grunley Construction Co. Inc., Rockville, Md.) today
testified before the House Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public
Buildings, and Emergency Management regarding contracting with the federal
Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) held the
hearing in order to
examine the small business programs of the Architect of the Capitol, the General
Services Administration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the John F.
Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Smithsonian Institution.
testimony focused on several contracting reform policies that AGC has advocated
for including better accounting of subcontractor participation, contract
bundling, HUBZones and agency consistency.
more on the hearing, click here.
more information, contact Marco Giamberardino at (703) 837-5325 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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