Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.orgJanuary 21, 2010
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On the Inside
HEALTH CARE
Health Care Bill in Limbo, Approach Uncertain
FEDERAL
President Issues Memorandum Designed to Crack Down on Tax-Delinquent Contractors
INFRASTRUCTURE FUNDING
AGC Attends National Infrastructure Bank Event
AGC Advocates for Additional Funding for Infrastructure As President Unveils 2011 Budget
AGC Continues Push for Jobs Bill
ELECTIONS
Brown Wins in Massachusetts, Changes Dynamics of Senate
HEALTH CARE
Health Care Bill in Limbo, Approach Uncertain
 

Republican Scott Brown’s win in the Massachusetts special election is reverberating through Congress. It appears the House lacks enough votes to pass the Senate version of the legislation, which means the Senate and House leaders must continue to work on a compromise of their two differing approaches.

Democratic leaders appear unsure of the next move on reform, and are evaluating all of their options, which include passing a pared down bill using the partisan and controversial procedural motion known as reconciliation. AGC continues to monitor the developments and advocate for reform that is affordable and increases choice and competition in the marketplace. The current legislative proposals fail to do so.

The provision causing the most consternation for the industry is the language in the Senate bill that explicitly targets the construction industry. The provision places mandates on the smallest of construction companies to provide coverage or pay penalties if they have more than five employees and a payroll that exceeds $250,000. This provision is unique to the construction industry, as companies in other industries with less than 50 employees are exempt from the mandate. AGC continues to meet with members of Congress and congressional staff to educate them on the impact of this provision, which has resulted in members on both sides of the aisle writing the Democratic leadership on removing this language from the final package.

AGC’s opposes the provision because: 1) few Senators were aware of it and it was never open to debate; 2) it was pushed by a small employer group representing less than 3 percent of construction companies; 3) it differs from other employee and payroll thresholds elsewhere in the bill, as well as other labor laws and regulations; and 4) the construction industry is currently experiencing the highest unemployment of any other industry, double the national rate.

In addition to AGC's direct lobbying, AGC members have heeded the call by sending thousands of letters and making phone calls to their elected officials, and AGC has joined with other trade associations to advocate on removing the provision.

To write your elected official on health care, use the AGC Legislative Action Center. For more information, contact Jim Young at (202) 547-0133 or youngj@agc.org. Return to Top

FEDERAL
President Issues Memorandum Designed to Crack Down on Tax-Delinquent Contractors
 

Yesterday, President Obama issued a presidential memorandum that directs federal agencies to block government contractors delinquent in their taxes from receiving new contracts.  In addition, the memorandum would require the Commissioner of Internal Revenue to conduct a review of the accuracy of certifications of non-delinquency in taxes that companies bidding for federal contracts are required to submit.  The President’s goal is to ensure that tax delinquent contractors are not awarded further federal contracts.

The President is also calling on Congress to ensure that tax dollars are not used to boost the profits of companies who refuse to pay their taxes. The presidential memorandum is part of a larger strategy of streamlining the federal contracting process which includes evaluating contract type feasibility, eliminating no-bid and sole source contracts where possible, scrutinizing payments and strengthening the federal workforce.

The text of the memorandum is available here.
The text of President Obama’s prepared remarks is available here.
The text of a White House press release on the subject is available here.

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

INFRASTRUCTURE FUNDING
AGC Attends National Infrastructure Bank Event
 

Yesterday a broad coalition of members of Congress, industry experts, and stakeholders called on Congress and the Obama Administration to create a National Infrastructure Bank to help fund infrastructure projects of regional and national importance.  AGC attended the event and stressed that the infrastructure bank concept must be part of a larger comprehensive approach to tackling infrastructure investment, including robust multi-year funding and significant regulatory reforms. It must also be created separate and apart from jobs legislation currently being drafted in the Senate.

The proposed National Infrastructure Bank would be designed to help improve the nation's roads and highways, bridges, ports, rail (freight and passenger), drinking and waste water treatment plants, smart grid, broadband and schools. AGC believes that an infrastructure bank should be capitalized with general fund revenue to assist individual or groups of states with financing, particularly for mega projects. Infrastructure bank financing should be available as low interest loans to help states finance projects or to assist in leveraging private funds.

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

AGC Advocates for Additional Funding for Infrastructure As President Unveils 2011 Budget
 

The White House announced this week that President Obama will deliver his State of the Union address on January 27 and release his FY 2011 budget February 1.  It is widely believed that the State of the Union and the president’s budget will focus on cutting the federal deficit and may downplay other new domestic programs beyond jobs programs.  In order for the administration to achieve the goal of deficit reduction, the FY2011 budget may contain a discretionary spending freeze at some federal agencies.  At the same time the president wants to ensure policies are in place that will lead to the creation of jobs.  Deficit reduction and job creation will be a difficult balancing act for the administration to achieve. 

The impact of the FY 2011 budget on spending for federal construction programs remains to be seen.  AGC will continue to work with relevant federal agencies and the Congress to ensure adequate funding is provided for these programs.  A detailed chart tracking budget requests and final appropriated dollars for these programs can be found here FY 2010 Budget | AGC - The Associated General Contractors of America.  Thanks in part to AGC’s advocacy, the final appropriated dollars for federal construction programs in FY 2010 was 2.4 percent greater than requested in the president’s budget and 1.7 percent greater than what was appropriated in FY 2009.

AGC showed the need for increased investment in infrastructure during a media conference call yesterday, which included results from a construction outlook survey completed by AGC members (chief economist Ken Simonson and CEO Steve Sandherr, left, during the call). The news was covered by Reuters,Seattle Times, Miami Herald and Omaha World Herald, among others. Meanwhile, Ken Simonson urged owners to move on projects quickly.

For more information, contact Sean O’Neill at (202) 547-8892 or oneills@agc.org. Return to Top

AGC Continues Push for Jobs Bill
 

The U.S. Senate defeated an amendment by a vote of 53-45 to legislation that would have increased the federal debt ceiling and prevented any new financial commitments for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).  The amendment was particularly troublesome because it would have invalidated the key provision used to pay for the $75 billion of new appropriations in the House-passed Main Street for Jobs Act and would have likely prevented the Senate from moving forward on their jobs bill because they too are likely to use TARP funds to offset the cost of their bill.

AGC, as co-chair of the Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC), sent a letter to the Senate opposing any effort to redirect the TARP funds to deficit reduction.

For more information, contact Sean O’Neill at (202) 547-8892 or oneills@agc.org. Return to Top

ELECTIONS
Brown Wins in Massachusetts, Changes Dynamics of Senate
 

On Tuesday, Scott Brown (R) defeated Martha Coakley (D) in the Massachusetts special election to fill the seat vacated by the late Senator Ted Kennedy.  Brown’s victory is already impacting Senate proceedings by removing the Democrat’s super majority of 60 votes.  

Once Brown is officially seated, Democrats will have 59 votes and will be unable to overcome Republican attempts to filibuster controversial pieces of legislation, such as health care reform.  It appears changes to the health care proposal that passed the Senate late last year will have to be significant to gain any bipartisan support. The direction of health care reform remains uncertain, as Democratic leaders are plotting the next course of action in the wake of the election.

The Senate still faces an uphill battle on many of AGC’s priorities. The challenge of finding additional votes on funding infrastructure investment remains a hurdle in the Senate, as does passing a jobs bill without a source of funding. AGC commented on this issue this week in Engineering News-Record.

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

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