State of the Union, Continuing Resolution, Debt Limit and Congressional Budget Office Report Offer Stage for Budget Fights
Just prior to President Obama’s State of the Union speech
–where he called for increased federal investment in areas of our economy,
including transportation infrastructure – the House of Representatives passed a
resolution to “transition” non-security spending for FY 2011 to FY 2008
levels. The good news is that they are no longer trying to reign in all
spending immediately. The bad news is that this will put pressure on
Congress to cut spending immediately, including infrastructure.
The House Republican plan at this point involves cutting
the aggregate total spending down to FY 2008 levels, or about 5-15 percent
below last year’s spending levels. There are no details yet on what or how much
will actually be cut, and the full extent of those cuts on individual agencies
and programs will not be known until the Appropriations Committee begins to
divide up its FY 2011 spending allocation in the next few weeks.
Each year the federal government spends more than $100
billion on construction in about 75 programs. The first quarter of 2011 will
offer a couple of opportunities for the cutting and spending factions to do
battle, including when Congress votes to extend government spending for the
second half of the fiscal year. Currently, the federal government is operating
at FY 2010 levels under a continuing resolution that expires March 4. The
extension of that spending bill to cover the entire fiscal year (ending
September 30, 2011) will mark the first opportunity for Congress to actually
cut federal spending. The next opportunity will be as Congress considers
raising the debt ceiling. The Obama administration has said the U.S. could
hit the $14.3 trillion debt level as soon as March 31, and they are pushing
Congress to raise the limit soon. Republicans are pushing for spending cuts and
spending caps to be added to any bill raising the federal debt limit; however
the Obama administration has resisted making cuts on the debt limit bill.
The latest news to escalate the budget cut debate was theCongressional Budget Office’s
(CBO) Economic and Budget Outlook over the next 10 years. The report predicts
that the U.S. debt is much worse than originally thought. According to
CBO, the 2011 deficit will be nearly $1.5 trillion up from the 2010 $1.3
trillion deficit. The report also projected the unemployment rate would
not fall below 9.2 percent in 2011 (currently 9.4 percent). What all this
adds up to is that Republicans will use the deficit number to push forward
drastic cuts in spending while the Democrats will likely call for targeted cuts
that don’t cut spending too quickly or deeply.
AGC is working to differentiate construction investment
programs from other spending programs. We are urging Congress to maintain
levels of capital investment necessary to support economic growth, job growth
and improve international competitiveness.
For more information, contact Sean O’Neill at (202)
547-8892 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Organizes for the 112th Congress
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held their organizational
meeting to approve the Committee rules and oversight plan, as well as subcommittee chairs, ranking members and
Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) and Ranking Member Nick Rahall (D-W.V.)
pledged to continue running the Committee in a bipartisan manner.
The Chairman and Ranking Member also agreed on a proposed schedule where they
would move the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization (which is on its
17th extension) before the Surface Transportation
Reauthorization. However, Chairman Mica has stated he would like to move
the surface bill before the August recess.
also approved an Oversight Plan for the 112th Congress that
includes, among other things, a list of highway, transit and water
infrastructure objectives. Many of the objectives are in line with AGC
positions. Specifically, the Committee intends to streamline project
delivery, consolidate and eliminate some federal transportation programs,
examine the federal role in transportation, and improve performance and
accountability in surface transportation programs.
will also look to close the current funding gap in the Highway Trust Fund by
continuing to determine the proper role innovative financing and private
investment will play in financing projects. In addition, the Committee
will continue its efforts from last Congress to identify unobligated surface
transportation funding, as well as conduct oversight on major highway and
transit construction projects that have experienced significant cost overruns.
In terms of
funding for water infrastructure, the Committee will conduct oversight of
wastewater treatment and water pollution control funding issues, including
levels and sources of funding and management of grant and loan programs;
wastewater security; and infrastructure needs. Innovative ways to finance
water infrastructure projects will also be a priority of the Committee.
AGC will work
closely with the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to ensure that
their legislative and oversight agenda has a positive impact on the
information, contact Sean O’Neill at (202) 547-8892 or email@example.com.
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Senate Committee Opens SAFETEA-LU Reauthorization Debate, AGC Testifies
Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee began debate on reauthorization of
SAFETEA-LU with a hearing Wednesday on “Transportation’s Role in Supporting Our
Economy and Job Creation.”
former President of Granite Construction Co, represented AGC and joined
AASHTO’s President Susan Martinovich, as well as a labor representative and a
representative from the freight transportation industry, in discussing the need
to enact a long term highway and transit bill soon. EPW Chairman Barbara Boxer
(D-Calif.) opened the hearing and said that short term extensions of the
programs undermine efforts by state DOTs to address long term planning and she
is committed to getting a well funded long term bill passed. Other Senators at
the hearing concurred with that sentiment.
The witnesses all
pointed out the unemployment situation in the construction industry and said
that investments in transportation infrastructure creats jobs while addressing
the country’s economic growth goals. Bill Dorey said he does not support
federal spending just to create jobs but that, in the case of infrastructure
investment, job creation is an additional benefit received from addressing
pressing needs. Ranking Republican member Jim Inhofe (Okla.) said he has been
identified as the number one conservative in the Senate, and believes in
reducing government spending, but he supports infrastructure investment because
of the long term returns it generates. He also said he wants the committee to
focus on eliminating unnecessary programs and red tape to make better use of
limited Highway Trust Fund revenues. Many of the Senators reported on the
benefits that have accrued to their states as a result of federal
For more information, contact Brian Deery at (703)
837-5319 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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President Obama Calls for Infrastructure Investment in State of the Union Address
While calling for a five year freeze in government spending
in his State of the Union address, President Obama nevertheless also called for
the need to invest in infrastructure. In discussing infrastructure he
emphasized his goals of increased investment in high speed rail and high speed
internet. He also called for highway and bridge investment as well calling for
more private investment.
The president emphasized the stimulus funds that went to
infrastructure when he said, “Over the last two years, we have begun rebuilding
for the 21st century, a project that has meant thousands of good jobs for the
hard-hit construction industry. Tonight, I'm proposing that we redouble these
efforts. We will put more Americans to work repairing crumbling roads and
bridges. We will make sure this is fully paid for, attract private investment,
and pick projects based on what's best for the economy, not politicians. Within
25 years, our goal is to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail,
which could allow you go places in half the time it takes to travel by car.”
The Administration is expected to present its
recommendations for transportation reauthorization as part of its budget
request in mid-February. In an address to the U.S. Conference of Mayors earlier
in the week, U.S. DOT’s undersecretary for policy laid out some of the key
themes that will be included in the administration's plan. They include support
for high-speed rail and the administration's livability agenda, which seeks to
foster communities that have densely-built housing mixed with office, retail
and entertainment development, as well as an array of transportation
alternatives to driving.
Read AGC’s statement in response to the State of the
For more information, contact Brian Deery at
(703) 837-5319 or email@example.com.
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OSHA Withdraws Two Significant Proposed Rulemakings
In a series of surprise moves, the U.S. Department of
Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that it
had withdrawn two separate proposed rules that would have had the potential to
significantly impact the construction industry.
On January 19, 2011, the agency announced it was
withdrawing its proposed interpretation titled “Interpretation of OSHA’s
Provisions for Feasible Administrative or Engineering Controls of Occupational
Noise.” The interpretation would have sought to clarify the term
“feasible administrative or engineering controls” as used in OSHA’s noise
standard. The proposed interpretation was published in the Federal
Register on Oct. 19, 2010. AGC was prepared to submit comments, but
the rule was withdrawn before AGC could formally comment. In lieu of the
rulemaking, OSHA announced it would continue to address this issue by:
- Conducting a thorough review of comments that
have been submitted in response to the Federal Register notice and of
any other information it receives on this issue.
- Holding a stakeholder meeting on preventing
occupational hearing loss to elicit the views of employers, workers, and noise
control and public health professionals.
- Consulting with experts from the National
Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the National Academy of
- Initiating a robust outreach and compliance
assistance effort to provide enhanced technical information and guidance on the
many inexpensive, effective engineering controls for dangerous noise levels.
On January 25, 2011, OSHA announced it had temporarily
withdrawn its proposal to include a column for work-related musculoskeletal
disorders (MSD) on employer injury and illness logs. The agency reportedly took
this action to seek greater input from small businesses on the impact of the
proposal and will do so through outreach in partnership with the U.S. Small
Business Administration's Office of Advocacy. While many employers are
currently required to keep a record of workplace injuries and illnesses,
including work-related MSDs, on the OSHA Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries
and Illnesses), the vast majority of small businesses are not required to keep
such records. The proposed rule would require those employers already mandated
to keep injury and illness records to begin recording MSDs and place a check
mark in the new column for all MSDs. AGC is submitting comments expressing
concerns that adding the requirement for recording MSDs could be misinterpreted
and the data could be utilized by the agency to wrongly justify a sweeping new
AGC will continue working with OSHA on these issues to
ensure that construction workers are provided a safe and healthy working
For more information, please contact Kevin Cannon
at (703) 837-5410 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Senators Introduce Bills to Repeal 1099 Paperwork Mandate, 3 Percent Withholding
In the U.S. Senate Tuesday Senators introduced separate
measures to repeal the Form 1099 paperwork mandate enacted in last year’s
massive healthcare law, and to repeal the 3 percent withholding requirement on
payments to government vendors. Both
provisions are scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2012.
Included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
was a provision that requires government, nonprofits, and businesses of all
sizes to file Form 1099s with the IRS when goods or services purchased without
a credit card from another business exceed $600 in a year. The provision was passed to help identify
businesses that are not reporting or underreporting income to avoid paying
their fair share of taxes and to raise an estimated $17 billion to help pay for
the healthcare bill. However, the new
requirement will be a tremendous burden on businesses, increasing their
paperwork and compliance costs.
Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.) Tuesday introduced legislation
to repeal the 1099 paperwork mandate.
The bill, S. 72, the Small Business Paperwork Mandate Elimination Act,
is identical legislation to H.R. 4 introduced in the U.S. House of
Representatives by Representative Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) on January 12. Similar legislation failed to pass in 2010
due to disagreements over whether and how the cost of the repeal would be
offset. Both the House and Senate bills do
not include offsets; a different Senate bill, S. 18, also introduced this week
by Senator Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) would be paid for with unobligated Recovery
On January 19, the House passed a bill to repeal the Patient
Protection and Affordable Care Act in its entirety, including the 1099
paperwork mandate. Given that the Senate
is unlikely to bring the bill up for a vote, the House has yet to schedule
consideration of H.R. 4 or other standalone bill to repeal the 1099 paperwork
Two measures were also introduced in the Senate Tuesday to
repeal the 3 percent withholding requirement on federal, state, and local
government contracts. S. 89, introduced
by Senator David Vitter (R-La.), and S. 164, introduced by Senator Scott Brown
(R-Mass.). Like S. 18, the bill
introduced by Senator Brown would offset the roughly $11 billion cost to repeal
the 3 percent withholding law by using unobligated Recovery Act funds.
AGC is requesting members us the Legislative Action Center to
write their Senators and Representative in support of H.R. 4 and S. 72, to repeal
the 1099 paperwork mandate, and S. 89, to repeal
3 percent withholding. For more
information on the 1099 reporting requirement and to write your Members of
Congress, use the AGC Legislative Action Center by clicking here.
For more information, contact Karen Lapsevic
at (202) 547-4733 or email@example.com.
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