Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org June 2, 2011
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On the Inside
Highlights in This Weeks Issue
TAX
3 Percent Repeal Bills Continue to Attract House and Senate Cosponsors
CONGRESS
Clean Debt Ceiling Vote Fails in the House, House Republicans Meet with President to Discuss Debt
Members of the House and Senate Introduce Legislation to Bar Administration from Inserting Politics into Federal Contracting
AGC Project Labor Agreement Policy Update
AGCENCIES
DoD Construction Agencies Hold Open Forum Session on Sustainability
New Interim Rules Issued to Green the Government
TRANSPORTATION
AGC Comments on Proposed Changes to Hours of Service Rules
Highlights in This Weeks Issue
 

Support to repeal 3 percent withholding continues and grassroots action is needed. Congress continues to debate raising the debt ceiling and must act on it by August. AGC comments on proposed changes to Hours of Service Rules and will testify before Congress on Project Labor Agreements. Return to Top

TAX
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 140 this week. 

The most recent additions to the House cosponsor list are:

 

Rep Black, Diane [TN-6] - 5/31/2011
Rep DeLauro, Rosa L. [CT-3] - 5/26/2011
Rep Dent, Charles W. [PA-15] - 5/31/2011
Rep Diaz-Balart, Mario [FL-21] - 5/26/2011
Rep Ellmers, Renee L. [NC-2] - 5/26/2011
Rep Fleming, John [LA-4] - 5/31/2011
Rep Herrera Beutler, Jaime [WA-3] - 5/26/2011
Rep Lujan, Ben Ray [NM-3] - 5/26/2011
Rep Murphy, Tim [PA-18] - 5/31/2011
Rep Owens, William L. [NY-23] - 5/31/2011
Rep Rahall, Nick J., II [WV-3] - 5/31/2011
Rep Scott, Tim [SC-1] - 5/26/2011


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


There are no new cosponsors in the Senate this week.


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


For more information, please contact Jeff Shoaf at
shoafj@agc.org. Return to Top

CONGRESS
Clean Debt Ceiling Vote Fails in the House, House Republicans Meet with President to Discuss Debt
 

On Monday, a bill that would have raised our nation’s debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion failed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 97-318.  The outcome of the clean debt ceiling vote was never in question.  The House Republicans used the vote as an opportunity to ensure that an increase in the debt limit – which must be raised by August 2 – will be accompanied by significant spending cuts and budgetary reform. 

The vote on the debt ceiling was followed by a meeting with the entire House Republican Conference and President Obama to discuss a path forward on addressing our nation’s debt.  The general consensus from Members of Congress at the meeting was that nothing new came out of it and the two sides are no closer to agreement on the debt ceiling or a larger budget agreement. 

All of this is being done while Vice President Biden holds debt-reduction talks with a bipartisan group of House and Senate Members with a goal finding common ground on a deficit reduction plan that can be part of any vote to increase the debt ceiling.  House Speaker John Boehner has expressed concern that Biden’s discussions are progressing too slowly. As a result, Boehner has offered to get personally involved in the negotiations and encouraged President Obama to do the same to prevent the discussions from going down to the wire of the August 2 deadline.    

To view a simple breakdown of the current debt and budget situations that are driving these debates and discussions, click here.

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

Members of the House and Senate Introduce Legislation to Bar Administration from Inserting Politics into Federal Contracting
 

On May 27, Congressional leaders in both the Senate and House of Representatives introduced legislation to prohibit federal agencies from collecting or using information about political contributions made by small, family-owned businesses or larger companies that wish to do business with the federal government. The “Keeping Politics Out of Federal Contracting Act of  2011” reaffirms the fundamental principle that federal contracts should be awarded free from political considerations and be based on the best value to the taxpayers. 

U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), and Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) introduced the measure in the Senate. Senator Collins is the Ranking Republican on the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, which oversees federal contracting. On the House side, Representatives Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Tom Cole (R-Okla.), and Sam Graves (R-Mo.) introduced an identical measure.

Specifically, the legislation would:

  • Prohibit a federal agency from collecting the political information of contractors and their employees as part of any type of request for proposal in anticipation of any type of contract;
  • Prohibit the agency from using political information received from any source as a factor in the source selection decision process for new contracts, or in making decisions related to modifications or extensions of existing contracts; and
  • Prohibit databases designed to be used by contracting officers to determine the responsibility of bidders from including political information (except for information on contractors’ violations already permitted by law).

The House approved an amendment by Rep. Cole to the FY 2010 Defense Authorization bill that would bar federal agencies from requiring the corporate disclosure of campaign donations as a condition for getting federal contracts.

Passage of the amendment could deal a major setback to the Obama Administration’s efforts to make federal contractors disclose the political contributions of their companies, board members and contributions of affiliated companies and their board members. The amendment passed by a vote of 261-163. Twenty-six Democrats crossed party lines to vote for the amendment.  AGC sent a letter to all members on Congress asking them to support the amendment. In addition, AGC signed on to an industry-wide coalition letter asking the same.

In April, the administration drafted a proposed Executive Order requiring federal agencies to collect information about campaign contributions and political expenditures of any business or individual bidding on a federal contract before awarding the contract.  

AGC previously submitted testimony for a hearing held jointly between the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the House Committee on Small Business titled, “Politicizing Procurement: Would President Obama’s Proposal Curb Free Speech and Hurt Small Business?”

In addition, AGC raised similar concerns in a letter sent by CEO Stephen Sandherr directly to President Obama. That letter stated that the proposed EO, titled “Disclosure of Political Spending by Government Contractors,” is unnecessary, noting that there is no evidence to indicate that political contributions are influencing the award of federal contractors.

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

AGC Project Labor Agreement Policy Update
 

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will hold a hearing June 3 on the Government Neutrality in Contracting Act, sponsored by Rep. John Sullivan (R-Okla.).

The legislation would ensure federal agencies awarding construction contracts do not: (1) require or prohibit a bidder, offeror, contractor, or subcontractor from entering into, or adhering to, agreements with a labor organization, with respect to that construction project or another related construction project; or (2) otherwise discriminate against or give preference to such a party because it did or did not become a signatory or otherwise adhere to such an agreement. AGC general counsel Mike Kennedy will offer testimony in support of the legislation and offer details on AGC’s position on government-mandated PLAs during the hearing.

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

AGCENCIES
DoD Construction Agencies Hold Open Forum Session on Sustainability
 

On June 2, key officials from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Air Force, Army Corps of Engineers and the Naval Facilities Engineering Command held an open industry forum to discuss their plans to create an evaluation factor for Total Ownership Costs (TOC) of certain types of facility construction. 

In the coming months the Tri-Service will initiate 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.

AGC plans on continue sharing information with the Tri-Services group as the team refines the details of the proposal, develops the draft RFP and takes it to pilot.

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

New Interim Rules Issued to Green the Government
 

On June 1, the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) Council issued an interim rule that changes procurement regulations to meet the goals of President Obama's October 2009 Executive Order. The interim rule also incorporates parts of a similar Executive Order issued by President Bush in March 2007.

Under the new regulation, agencies will be required to “advance sustainable acquisition by ensuring that 95 percent of new contract actions (including those for construction) contain requirements for products that are designated as energy-efficient, water-efficient, biobased, environmentally preferable (e.g., EPEAT-registered, non-toxic or less toxic alternatives), non-ozone depleting, or those that contain recovered materials."

The interim rule encourages agencies to accept bid proposals electronically, but if they can't, vendors must "submit paper documents to the government relating to an acquisition printed or copied double-sided on at least 30 percent postconsumer fiber paper whenever practicable. If the contractor cannot print or copy double-sided, it shall print or copy single-sided on at least 30 percent postconsumer fiber paper."

AGC will submit comments to the interim rule. The FAR Council is accepting comments through August 1 on the interim rule.

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

TRANSPORTATION
AGC Comments on Proposed Changes to Hours of Service Rules
 

The Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) has extended the comment period to June 8 on its proposed revisions to the truck driver hours of service regulations to allow for comment on four new studies related to driver fatigue. AGC is reviewing the studies and will supplement the comments AGC has already submitted on the proposed rule change.  FMCSA’s proposed rule suggests the following changes:

  • Maximum driving time within each driving window from the existing 11 hours to 10 hours.
  • Maximum on-duty time within each driving window from the existing 14 hours to 13 hours.
  • Allowed consecutive hours of driving would be limited to 7 hours or less since the last off-duty period of at least 30 minutes.
  • Define on-duty as not including any time resting in a parked Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV). 

This proposed rulemaking does not alter the existing construction exemption, which allows drivers transporting construction materials and equipment to and from an active construction site within a 50-air-mile radius of the driver’s normal work reporting location to restart the on-duty counting period following any off-duty period of 24 or more successive hours.

AGC’s comments on the proposed change recommended the following: maintain the construction exemption but increase the distance coverage to a 100-air-mile radius; continue to allow 11 hours of driving time in each driving window; continue to allow the existing 14 hours maximum on-duty time within driving window; and “on duty” time for construction drivers should not include waiting time to deliver product. FMCSA has reopened the comment period asking for analysis of four new studies related to driver fatigue.

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

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