Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.orgFebruary 18, 2010
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On the Inside
HEALTH CARE
Obama to Hold Bipartisan Health Care Summit While Democrats Continue to Work on New Bill
JOBS BILL
Jobs Bill Cloture Vote on Monday
STIMULUS
Stimulus One Year Anniversary
U.S. DOT Announces TIGER Grant Awards
EPA Reports Most States Will Meet SRF Recovery Act Deadline
ENERGY
New Federal Loan Guarantees For Nuclear Reactor Construction Promised
CONGRESS
Another Week of Unexpected Retirement Announcements
HEALTH CARE
Obama to Hold Bipartisan Health Care Summit While Democrats Continue to Work on New Bill
 

Despite problems thus far to deliver a health care reform bill to the president, Congressional Democrats remain committed to reconciling differences between the House- and Senate-passed versions, and may have an agreement soon. With a nationally-televised health care summit scheduled next week and November elections approaching, discussions and urgency has been renewed. The summit will include leaders of both parties and the White House.

As leaders prepare for the summit, several Democratic senators are exploring using the partisan reconciliation process to pass reform that includes a public option, against the desire of moderates in their party. It remains uncertain if Democrats will have an official agreement next week, if the president will present his own plan for reform, or if the Republicans will make significant contributions to the process.  Other issues that must be addressed include extension of unemployment insurance and COBRA benefits.

For details on health care, click here. For more information, contact Jim Young at (202) 547-0133 or youngj@agc.org. Return to Top

JOBS BILL
Jobs Bill Cloture Vote on Monday
 

Next Monday, the Senate will hold a cloture vote on whether to allow debate to proceed on the Reid substitute for the so-called “jobs” legislation. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) decided to abandon a bipartisan “jobs” package negotiated by Senators Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).

Instead, Reid has put forward a scaled back version that would:

  • Extend highway program authorization through December 31, 2010 at current funding levels.
  • Provide additional revenue to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent through the first quarter of 2011.
  • Restore highway spending authority that was cut on September 30, 2009, due to a budget rescission in SAFETEA-LU.
  • Exempt workers hired in 2010 that have been unemployed for at least 60 days from Social Security payroll taxes.
  • Allow public bodies to convert tax credit bonds to Build America Bonds.
  • Extend 2008 and 2009 section 179 expensing thresholds so that taxpayers may elect to write-off up to $250,000 of certain capital expenditures in 2010 in lieu of depreciating those costs over time.

Unlike the House “jobs” legislation, neither Senate versions contain additional infrastructure funding, although there have been discussions about moving additional “Jobs” legislation in the future.   AGC has been visiting Senate offices urging support for cloture and for final passage of the bill. If you have not yet done so, please call your Senators and tell them the following:

  • Please vote for cloture to allow consideration of the “jobs” bill to proceed and vote in favor of final passage of the bill.
  • Failure to approve this legislation by February 28 could result in our state losing millions in highway funding, undermine our state’s ability to reimburse contractors for ongoing contracts, stall future contract lettings and undermine the outlook for reauthorization of the federal aid highway program.
  • Build America Bonds have allowed states and local governments to pay for vital infrastructure like schools, water projects, port expansions  and transportation projects that also create jobs.
  • With the unemployment rate in the construction industry at nearly 25 percent, a disruption in highway and other infrastructure funding and will make this situation worse. This legislation is necessary to save construction jobs and will lead to more hiring.

On Wednesday, AGC pushed for infrastructure funding during a media call with Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).  Read more here.

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

STIMULUS
Stimulus One Year Anniversary
 

During the stimulus anniversary media event, President Obama said, "If you don't think the stimulus is working, talk to Chuck." AGC member Chuck Niederriter is far right.

President Obama marked the one year anniversary of the signing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on Wednesday with AGC member Chuck Niederriter (Golden Triangle Construction, Imperial, Pa.) by his side. Thanks to the stimulus, Golden Triangle is hiring more than 100 employees this spring and will order new equipment, creating more jobs.

The administration came to AGC for a construction contractor who has benefited from the stimulus to be a part of today's White House event. During his remarks, President Obama announced, "If you don't think the stimulus is working, talk to Chuck."

Watch part of the event here, or read Bloomberg's coverage. Obama and Biden's remarks are available here.

Niederriter, president of Constructors Association of Western Pennsylvania, participated in AGC's media conference call to announce anew analysis of stimulus data that shows the program is delivering more jobs than initially estimated.

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

U.S. DOT Announces TIGER Grant Awards
 

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced $1.5 billion in Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) discretionary grants to 51 projects across the country. The TIGER grants program was created in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which was signed into law one year ago yesterday.

When DOT solicited applications for TIGER grants, more than 1,400 applications seeking in excess of $57 billion in funding were submitted. While ARRA did not specify the criteria to be used in selecting individual projects, it did set out some broad parameters. ARRA specified that these discretionary grants were to be awarded to state and local governments or transit agencies on a competitive basis for a variety of transportation projects that will have a significant impact on the nation, a metropolitan area or a region. Rail-related projects are the biggest winner, with $789 million of the available funds awarded to these projects. The funds remain available until September 30, 2011. The DOT 2010 appropriations bill included an additional $600 million in funds for the TIGER grant program, which have not yet been awarded.

For the full list of project awards, click here.  For more information, contact Brian Deery at (703) 837-5319 or deeryb@agc.org. Return to Top

EPA Reports Most States Will Meet SRF Recovery Act Deadline
 

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, most states were on target to meet Wednesdays’ Recovery Act deadline for projects receiving federal assistance through the State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs.  Considering the significant lag time due to new "Buy American" requirements and other administrative issues, this is a significant accomplishment. In fact, many states have leveraged EPA dollars with additional SRF funds by a factor of 57 percent.

AGC estimates that EPA Recovery Act dollars ultimately will be leveraged nationally almost 2 to 1, yielding at least $12 billion in projects from the $6 billion allocated to the SRF's under the Recovery Act. States that have not met the February 17 deadline will ultimately lose funds not under contract.

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

ENERGY
New Federal Loan Guarantees For Nuclear Reactor Construction Promised
 

President Obama announced $8.3 billion in federal loan guarantees to support the construction of a planned two-reactor nuclear power plant in Georgia, which would be the first new U.S. nuclear plants in more than three decades. The plant is expected to cost $14.5 billion to build and projected to be completed in 2017. Administration officials promised that more assistance is on the way. The administration has $18.5 billion available in loan guarantees for nuclear plants and the administration's FY 2011 budget request asks Congress to add an additional $36 billion to the nuclear loan guarantee program.

AGC has long supported increased domestic energy production, including nuclear energy, fossil fuels, and renewable and alternative energy sources. President Obama intends to incorporate nuclear electricity generation into his greater energy and climate change policy. He cited international competition and jobs as primary reasons for this new policy initiative.

Click here to view the full remarks by the president.

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

CONGRESS
Another Week of Unexpected Retirement Announcements
 

The political establishment received another surprise with Senator Evan Bayh’s (D-Ind.) announcement that he would not seek reelection in November. Bayh served in the Senate for two terms and is a former governor of Indiana. Often considered a moderate and swing vote, he supported repeal of the death tax crossed the party line on other issues as well. Bayh was facing a challenge by former Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.) in the fall election.

In addition, Representative Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), son of the late Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), announced that he would not seek reelection. With 257 days until the election, more retirements are expected.

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

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