Construction Legislative Week in Review May 19, 2011
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On the Inside
3 Percent Repeal Bills Continue to Attract House and Senate Cosponsors
Debt Limit Hit, Senate Bipartisan Budget Talks Break Down
AGC-supported Private Activity Bond Legislation Gets Media and Congressional Attention – ACTION NEEDED
AGC Project Labor Agreement Policy Update
National Labor Relations Board Boeing Controversy Update
AGC and DoD Construction Agencies Hold Joint Session on Sustainability
Upcoming Changes in Congress
Transportation Construction Coalition Hosts Industry Fly-In

Legislation to improve and invest water infrastructure was recently introduced and action is needed in support of it. The NLRB decision on Boeing’s South Carolina plant continues to draw attention in Congress and legislation to counter it has been offered.  AGC responds to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on their solicitation regarding the potential use of project labor agreements in Nebraska. Congress continues to grapple with the nation’s debt limit. Return to Top

3 Percent Repeal Bills Continue to Attract House and Senate Cosponsors

The House cosponsor number has grown from 36 during the week of the AGC convention to 116 this week. 

The most recent additions to the House cosponsor list are the following members:

Rep Stutzman, Marlin A. [IN-3] - 5/10/2011
Rep Maloney, Carolyn B. [NY-14] - 5/10/2011
Rep Westmoreland, Lynn A. [GA-3] - 5/10/2011
Rep Bishop, Rob [UT-1] - 5/10/2011
Rep Hirono, Mazie K. [HI-2] - 5/10/2011
Rep Johnson, Bill [OH-6] - 5/12/2011
Rep Walsh, Joe [IL-8] - 5/12/2011
Rep Myrick, Sue Wilkins [NC-9] - 5/12/2011
Rep Bachus, Spencer [AL-6] - 5/12/2011
Rep Gibson, Christopher P. [NY-20] - 5/12/2011
Rep Gardner, Cory [CO-4] - 5/12/2011
Rep Gosar, Paul A. [AZ-1] - 5/12/2011
Rep Cravaack, Chip [MN-8] - 5/12/2011
Rep Rigell, E. Scott [VA-2] - 5/12/2011

The most recent Senate cosponsors are:

Sen Chambliss, Saxby [GA] - 5/10/2011
Sen Blunt, Roy [MO] - 5/10/2011
Sen Wicker, Roger F. [MS] - 5/11/2011
Sen Rubio, Marco [FL] - 5/11/2011
Sen Hoeven, John [ND] - 5/16/2011
Sen Hutchison, Kay Bailey [TX] - 5/18/2011

If you know these members of the House and/or Senate, please send them a thank you for cosponsoring.

Next week, Mike Murphy of Turner Murphy Construction in Rock Hill, S.C., will testify in favor of repealing the 3 percent withholding before the House Small Business Committee.  Also, AGC members attending the Transportation Construction Coalition Fly-In will be lobbying for repeal of the 3 percent withholding while also working to pass a multiyear transportation bill.

To send a letter to your member of Congress and Senators, click here.

For more information, contact Jeff Shoaf Return to Top

Debt Limit Hit, Senate Bipartisan Budget Talks Break Down

The budget and the deficit continue to dominate discussions in Washington, D.C.  Although this week did not see any significant progress in addressing either the budget or the deficit, it didn’t lack for news on the respective fronts. 

On Monday, the U.S. officially reached its $14.3 trillion debt limit and began taking “extraordinary measures” to meet its current obligations.  It is projected that these measures will allow the Treasury Department the ability to continue borrowing money until August 2.  At that point, according to the Treasury, “the borrowing authority of the United States will be exhausted,” which could result in a government default on its obligations. Congress must vote before August 2 to increase the debt ceiling to avoid such a default.  Republicans continue to demand significant spending cuts be a part of any debt ceiling vote.  It is likely the vote will have that spending cut element but unlikely it will include any tax or Medicare reform.  AGC and a number of other trade associations sent a letter to House and Senate leaders urging them to take action on the debt limit.

Also this week, the future of the bipartisan group of Senators known as the Gang of Six, who had been working on a significant deficit reduction deal modeled after the president’s Deficit Reduction Commission, was called into question due to Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) withdrawing from the negotiations.  The Gang of Six had been discussing tax and entitlement reform paired with spending cuts and caps on mandatory and discretionary spending.   AGC had learned that the Gang of Six were likely to address our nation’s infrastructure gap, but not recommend increasing the gas tax, as the President’s Deficit Commission suggested.

The path forward on the deficit and the budget remains unclear.  We do know that we will be seeing additional cuts in spending as part of the debt limit debate and will continue to see cuts as Congress continues the budget and appropriations process for fiscal year 2012.

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

AGC-supported Private Activity Bond Legislation Gets Media and Congressional Attention – ACTION NEEDED

Rep. Pascrell (right) demonstrates the consequences of deferred water infrastructure maintenance with Sen. Menendez (left) and N.J. State Assemblyman Thomas Giblin (center).

The AGC-supported Sustainable Water Infrastructure Investment Act of 2011 was recently introduced in the House and Senate. It would remove water and wastewater from under the private activity bond (PAB) volume cap, making it easier for up to $5 billion to be invested in water infrastructure annually.

The bill’s two Democratic sponsors, Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), were highlighted in an event May 16 in New Jersey at the site of one of the worst water main breaks in the state. AGC worked to ensure AGC of New Jersey was on hand to participate in the event.

Also this week, Menendez spoke during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on different methods of infrastructure finance. The Senator questioned Committee witness Fmr. Governor of Pennsylvania Ed Rendell, now with the Building America’s Future Educational Fund, about the ability of private activity bonds to unlock private investment and create jobs and new tax revenue.

Private activity bonds or exempt facility bonds are a form of tax-exempt financing that encourages state and municipal governments to collaborate with sources of private capital to meet a public need. Congress provides states an annual allocation of the federal tax-exempt bonds, based upon population.  In 2011, the state allocation or volume cap shall be the greater of $95 per resident or $277.82 million.

Left: Rep. Bill Pascrell with AGC of New Jersey chapter executive Tom DiGangi, Jr.

Historically, most of the tax-exempt bonds have been issued to politically attractive, short-term projects in the more than 20 other categories eligible for these bonds, such as housing and education loans. The annual volume cap hinders the use of PABs for water and wastewater infrastructure, which are generally multi-year projects and out of sight.  In 2007, only 1.3 percent of all exempt facility bonds were issued to water and wastewater projects. Exceptions from the volume cap are currently provided for other governmentally owned facilities such as airports, ports, housing, high-speed intercity rail and solid waste disposal sites. The legislation could make it easier for between $2 and $5 billion a year in private capital to be invested in water infrastructure, at a cost of just $35.4 million a year.

Use AGC’s Legislative Action Center to write your congressman in support of removal of water and wastewater from under the under the private activity bond volume cap.

For more information, contact Scott Berry at (703) 837-5321 or Return to Top

AGC Project Labor Agreement Policy Update

On May 19, 2011, AGC sent a letter to the Omaha District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers providing comment on their solicitation regarding the potential use of project labor agreements (PLA) on large-scale construction projects (exceeding $25 million) within the Omaha/Lincoln Metro area.

The letter is the latest of AGC's continuing efforts to educate government agencies about PLA issues and implications. While AGC neither supports nor opposes PLAs in general, AGC strongly opposes government mandates for PLAs on publicly funded construction projects. AGC is committed to free and open competition in all public construction markets and believes that publicly-funded contracts should be awarded without regard to the lawful labor relations policies and practices of the government contractor.

For more information, please contact Marco Giamberardino at (703) 837-5325 or Return to Top

National Labor Relations Board Boeing Controversy Update

Attention remains focused on the complaint by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) with regard to Boeing’s South Carolina Dreamliner plant. The complaint claims that Boeing violated federal labor law by building this plant in retaliation against past strikes by the unions.  Boeing disputes this claim.

Last week, Senators Alexander (R-Tenn.), Graham (R-S.C.) and DeMint (R-S.C.) introduced The Job Protection Act in response to this complaint. The bill seeks to clarify what the NLRB is able to do with regard to employers being able to move to a new location. Specifically, the legislation states that the NLRB cannot order an employer to relocate jobs from one location to another and guarantees that an employer has the right to decide where to do business. The bill also seeks to allow businesses to discuss the various costs that could be associated with having a unionized workforce without the fear that such communication could be used as evidence in a discrimination claim. 

A large employer group, the Coalition for a Democratic Workforce (CDW), has sent a letter of support to the sponsors of this legislation.  AGC is a steering committee member of the Coalition for a Democratic Workforce.

For more information, contact Kelly Knott at (202) 547-4685 or Return to Top

AGC and DoD Construction Agencies Hold Joint Session on Sustainability

On May 18, AGC held the second joint meeting with representatives from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Air Force, Army Corps of Engineers and the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, who have formed a special Tri-Service working group on creating an evaluation factor for Total Ownership Costs (TOC) of certain types of facility construction.  

In the next coming months the Tri-Service will be initiating a pilot to test a template they have created to utilize during the RFP Process in the 2nd phase technical proposals. This would most likely be a component of the technical evaluation for Sustainability on MilCon projects. Currently, there are seven common MILCON facility types identified.

The Tri-Service also has a planned program about this scheduled for June 2 at the Hyatt Dulles.

AGC will continue working with the Tri-Services group as the team refines the details of the proposal and takes it to pilot.

For more information, please contact Marco Giamberardino at (703) 837-5325 or Return to Top

Upcoming Changes in Congress

AGC prepared an outline of upcoming special elections in California, New York and Nevada.

California 36

The Special Election to replace former Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-Calif.) will be July 12 after no candidate received over 50 percent in the May 17 open primary. It is expected businessman Craig Huey (R), who holds a slim lead over the third place finisher will face L.A. City Councilwoman Janice Hahn (D). Huey’s second place in the primary was a surprise.

New York 26

The Special Election to replace western New York Representative Chris Lee (R) who resigned shortly after the start of the 112th Congress will be held next Tuesday. Under state election laws, party leaders were able to designate nominees and the nominations in the race include: state Assemblywoman Jane Corwin (R) and Erie County clerk Kathy Hochul (D). Also, a third contender, local industrialist/frequent candidate Jack Davis is running as a third party candidate of the Tea Party, and could play an influential role in determining the outcome of the race by preventing either Corwin or Hochul from receiving a majority of the vote.

AGC PAC has supported Corwin.

Nevada 2

The Special Election to fill the vacancy of Dean Heller (R) will be held September 13. Heller was appointed to the Senate on May 9 to replace former Senator John Ensign (R). The procedures and rules for nominating candidates have not yet been determined. Heller will run for reelection to for the full Senate term in 2012.

For more information on your elected officials, visit the AGC Congressional Vote Records page, which provides information about elected federal legislators through the votes they cast on key construction industry issues. Key votes are selected on the basis of AGC’s top legislative priorities that are determined prior to the start of each Congress by the AGG Legislative Action Committee.

For more information, contact Jim Young at (202) 547-0133 or Return to Top

Transportation Construction Coalition Hosts Industry Fly-In

Next Tuesday and Wednesday almost 500 people will gather in Washington, D.C., to promote enactment of a multiyear highway and transit authorization.

AGC members will gather at lunch on Tuesday for a briefing and the larger group will meet starting at 2pm. The afternoon session will feature Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) and Congressman Nick Joe Rahall (D-W.V.), as well as industry experts who will discuss funding and policy proposals that Congress is considering.

The Fly-In schedule is as follows:
Tuesday May 24, 2011
11 am-1:30 am - AGC Issues Briefing Lunch (Garden Room)
2 pm- 4:30 pm - Legislative Briefing
6 pm - Capitol Hill Reception

Wednesday May 25, 2011
7 am-7:45 am - Continental Breakfast
8 am – 5 pm - Congressional Visits

View detailed agendas for the AGC luncheon (in the Garden Room of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel) and theTCC sessions.

 For more information, contact Brian Deery at
Return to Top

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