Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org February 3, 2011
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On the Inside
BUDGET
House Begins Efforts to Cut Spending
HEALTH CARE
Senate Fails to Repeal Health Care Law Court Action Likely Next Step
LABOR
AGC-Opposed Candidate Renominated to the National Labor Relations Board
ENVIRONMENT
AGC Praises New Commercial Building Efficiency Effort
INFRASTRUCTURE
Senate Takes Up FAA Authorization
House T&I Committee Announces Listening Session Locations
BUDGET
House Begins Efforts to Cut Spending
 

Today the House Budget Committee Chairman announced spending caps that will govern the continuing resolution to be considered in the House in mid-February.  The budget caps will reduce spending government wide by about $35 billion from 2010 spending levels. Specific spending cuts have not been decided yet, but every category of spending other than Defense is forecast to receive a cut in spending.

The spending cuts are subdivided into two categories: Non-Defense/Non-Security; and Defense, Security and Veterans.  The Defense, Security and Veterans portion of the budget totals about $625 billion, and gets an increase of about 1%.  All Non-Defense Discretionary (totaling about $462 billion) will absorb about $43 billion in spending cuts or a cut of about 9% below 2010 spending levels.  The federal government spent about $120 billion on construction in 2010.

The Appropriations Committee will announce what programmatic spending reductions they plan to make over the next week.    While the total cut will be about 9%, we anticipate some programs could be cut by up to 20%.  We are now working with our allies to protect spending for infrastructure programs.

For more information contact Jeff Shoaf at shoafj@agc.org.



 

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HEALTH CARE
Senate Fails to Repeal Health Care Law Court Action Likely Next Step
 

The Senate failed to repeal the health care law by a vote of 47 to 51, which fell along party lines with all Republicans supporting it. The vote marked the first time the Republicans in the Senate tried to repeal the bill and comes on the heels of a successful effort in the House and new court challenges to the law. The Republican attempts to repeal the health care law may not be over; the GOP will likely target provisions of the law by attempting to cut off funding for key aspects.

While the full repeal attempt failed, a separate vote passed with bipartisan support on repealing the IRS Form 1099 reporting requirement. The provision was included in last year’s health care law and requires businesses to send 1099s to the IRS and to any business from which they made purchases of goods or services equaling $600 or more a year. There is a separate bill in the House that would repeal the 1099 provision, and you can use the Legislative Action Center to write your Representative in support of the bill.

The health care law took a significant blow this week when U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson ruled that the law violated the Constitution by requiring Americans to buy insurance.  Twenty-six states have challenged the law and want to halt implementation of pieces that apply to the states. While it may take more than a year to resolve this issue in the courts, the Supreme Court may be asked to quickly rule on the constitutionality of the heath care law. Virginia’s Attorney General has expressed interest in expediting the Supreme Court review; the Obama Administration has pledged to fight efforts to expedite review.  To view AGC’s most recent letter to the Senate regarding health care, click here.

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

LABOR
AGC-Opposed Candidate Renominated to the National Labor Relations Board
 

In 2010, President Obama nominated Mr. Craig Becker to become a member of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).  Due to strong opposition to the nomination, including by AGC of America, the Senate failed to confirm the nomination.  The President chose to push forward with his nominee anyway with a recess appointment in March.  Becker’s recess appointment expires when the Senate adjourns at the end of 2011.  

On January, 26, 2011, President Obama again nominated Mr. Becker for a full term on the NLRB.  The term of this appointment would be until December 2014.   This week, all 47 Republican Senators sent President Obama letter asking him to withdraw the nomination. 

Prior to his recess appointment, Mr. Becker was the associate general counsel of the Service Employees International Union and the AFL-CIO, and had been a prolific writer on the National Labor Relations Act, the law he is now responsible for interpreting and enforcing.   These writings have indicated his extreme views on labor law, such as wanting to eliminate the role of employers in union elections and vastly limiting the role of employers in communicating with their employees.  In addition, he is a strong advocate of the so-called Employee Free Choice Act and is expected to push the NRLB to effect changes to employee rights like those attempted by the bill.

AGC opposes the nomination of Mr. Becker to the NLRB because of his controversial positions on labor law.  

For more information, contact Kelly Knott at (202) 547-4685 or knottk@agc.org. Return to Top

ENVIRONMENT
AGC Praises New Commercial Building Efficiency Effort
 

AGC released a statement today in response to the Obama Administration’s new “Better Buildings Initiative,” intended to encourage private sector energy upgrades.

AGC noted that the plan will do more to cut emissions and create new jobs than any cap & trade scheme while also safeguarding the environment.

Read the statement here.

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

INFRASTRUCTURE
Senate Takes Up FAA Authorization
 

The Senate has taken up the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill as its first major piece of legislation for the 112th Congress. FAA authorization expired on September 30, 2007 and the program has been operating under a series of 17 short term extensions ever since. Both the House and Senate passed reauthorization measures last year but were unable to reconcile differences in their respective bills before the 111th Congress expired. Rather than start from scratch, the Senate took up the bill that was passed last year by a 93-0 vote as its starting point.

The two year authorization would increase funding to the Airport Improvement Program to $4 billion in FY 2011 and FY 2012 up from its current level of $3.5 billion. The legislation would increase jet-fuel taxes from 21.9 cents per gallon to 36 cents primarily to fund improvements in the air traffic control system. The cap on the passenger facility charge (PFC), which is used to fund capital improvements at airports, would remain at $4.50. Last year’s House version of the bill would increase the PFC cap to $7.00.

Because a long list of amendments has been proposed, the legislation is likely to be under consideration for several days. This bill was used as the vehicle for consideration of repeal of last year’s health care legislation (see story above). The bill also served as a test vote on the repeal of Davis Bacon when Kentucky Senator Rand Paul offered an amendment tonight that would have removed Davis Bacon requirements from construction projects funded by programs administered by the Federal Aviation Administration. The amendment failed today by a vote of 42 to 55.

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

House T&I Committee Announces Listening Session Locations
 

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John L. Mica (R-Fla.) announced the locations for a series of national field hearings and public forums, the first step in drafting multi-year surface transportation reauthorization legislation.

The Committee will seek input from transportation stakeholders on how to consolidate and improve the performance of the highway and transit programs, cut government red tape and streamline the project delivery process, increase private sector investment in infrastructure, identify creative financing alternatives, and other ideas for writing the legislation. 

The Committee will gather information for the transportation reauthorization bill through visits to Beckley and Charleston West Virginia on February 14, and the following locations from February 17-25: the Philadelphia Metropolitan area; Scranton, Pennsylvania; Rochester, New York; Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis, Indiana; the Chicago Metropolitan area; Vancouver, Washington; Fresno, California; Los Angeles; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Jonesboro, Arkansas; and the Memphis Metropolitan area.

AGC will be identifying members to participate in these sessions to present the construction industry’s concerns and recommendations.  Please contact Brian Deery at the number below if you would like to participate.

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

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