Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org September 8, 2011
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On the Inside
TAX
AGC Members Urged to Keep Pressure on Congress to Repeal 3 Percent Government Withholding
BUDGET
President Will Lay Out Jobs Package Tonight
Super Committee Holds their First Meeting
TRANSPORTATION
Senate Committee Moves Four-Month Highway Extension
House Appropriations Subcommittee Cuts Highway and Transit Funding
House Transportation Committee Marks Up Pipeline Safety Reauthorization
ENVIRONMENT
AGC Welcomes Decision to Delay New National Ozone Standards
AGC PAC
2012 Election Looms Large: AGC PAC Co-Chairs Announce the PAC Path Ahead
TAX
AGC Members Urged to Keep Pressure on Congress to Repeal 3 Percent Government Withholding
 

Congress returned to Washington this week facing a busy legislative agenda.  With several priorities competing for attention, AGC members are urged to keep the repeal of 3 percent government withholding in the forefront.


As reported last week, House Republican leadership has identified repeal of the 3 percent government withholding mandate as a priority this fall and may consider the legislation as early as October.  They are including the repeal legislation as part of their jobs agenda for the fall.  Currently there are 232 – a majority – of House members signed on as cosponsors of H.R. 674, a bill to repeal 3 percent government withholding. 


While passage of 3 percent government withholding repeal is expected in the House when it comes up for a vote, the Senate has yet to schedule debate on similar legislation there despite a record 29 cosponsors. 


Monday, AGC’s CEO Steve Sandherr will testify at a public hearing at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on proposed regulations to change the effective date of the 3 percent government withholding mandate to January 1, 2013 for new and materially modified contracts, and to January 1, 2014 for all contracts (new and existing).  AGC will reiterate our opposition to the withholding, express support for the implementation delay and opposition to imposing the 3 percent government withholding mandate on existing contracts on January 1, 2014. 


AGC will work closely with House Republican leadership as it prepares for debate on 3 percent government withholding.  AGC continues to urge its members and chapters to contact their Senators and Representatives to ask that they cosponsor legislation to repeal the 3 percent government withholding mandate.


Use AGC’s 3 percent withholding website to find additional resources including talking points, IRS regulations, videos on the impact of this legislation, letters sent to Congress by AGC, and ways to become involved.  Please continue to make contact with your legislators and encourage your employees to do the same by using AGC’s Legislative Action Center.


For a list of cosponsors in your state, please click here.


For more information, please contact Karen Lapsevic at (202) 547-4733 or
lapsevick@agc.org. Return to Top

BUDGET
President Will Lay Out Jobs Package Tonight
 

The package will likely include an extension of the payroll tax cuts through calendar 2012, and extension of emergency unemployment benefits. Those two elements will cost about $170 billion. Other probable proposals include a continued push to reauthorize the aviation and surface transportation programs, a push for water infrastructure and the creation of an infrastructure bank.  It is not clear if the proposals will include recommendations to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.  House and Senate Republicans have pledged to listen to the president and look for common ground.  The president is pitching his plan as consensus ideas and worthy of swift bipartisan efforts. 

AGC has shared our blueprint for economic growth with house and senate leaders as well as senior administration officials.  The president’s speech will be followed by detailed briefings from federal agencies tomorrow.

For more information, please contact Jeff Shoaf at (202) 547-3350 or shoafj@agc.org. Return to Top

Super Committee Holds their First Meeting
 

The Select Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, the 12-member bipartisan committee tasked with cutting at least $1.2 trillion from our nation’s federal deficit held their first meeting today on Capitol Hill.

The meeting - which was organizational in nature - laid the foundation for the next several weeks, as the committee adopted a rules package aimed at creating transparency for the committee.  Under the package, the two co-chairs, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Congressman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) will provide an agenda no less than 48 hours before any meeting and bill text of any issues they are considering at a meeting will be available no less than 24 hours before any meeting.  In addition, the committee hearing must be publicized at least a week in advance.

The committee which is required by stature to present their plan to cut at least $1.2 trillion from our federal deficit by Nov. 23rd or face across the board spending cuts to both domestic and defense spending will likely take suggestions from respective House and Senate Committee on their ideas for cost cutting within their jurisdictions into consideration as they craft their plan in a very short time frame.

AGC continues to meet with the offices of the members on the super committee providing a copy of AGC’s document “Building a Stronger Future, A New Blueprint for Economic Growth,” which includes a series of recommendations for spurring economic growth.

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

TRANSPORTATION
Senate Committee Moves Four-Month Highway Extension
 

This morning, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) unanimously passed out of their committee the Surface Transportation Act of 2012, a four-month extension of the surface transportation authorization.  The current extension is set to expire on Sept. 30, 2011.

The AGC supported bill will extend federal aid highway programs through Jan. 31, 2012 at current authorized funding levels of $42 billion.  The bill also extends the authority to collect the federal motor fuels tax, also set to expire on Sept. 30, 2011 through Jan. 30, 2012. 

The next step for the extension is consideration by the entire Senate.  At this point it is not clear when it will come to the Senate floor for a vote.  The status of the extension in the House has yet to be determined.  Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman John Mica (R-FL) has two main options in moving an extension forward: extend the programs at current levels as the Senate did; or extend at the levels in the House passed budget resolution, which accounts for a 30 percent cut in current funding. 

AGC has been meeting with House Leadership and the Transportation Committee encouraging them to move an extension at current funding levels.

At the EPW markup of the Surface Transportation Extension Act, Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Ranking Member Jim Inhofe reaffirmed their efforts in finalizing a two-year $109 billion bill that would keep spending at current levels while providing many reform long advocated by AGC. 

One of the last hurdles to overcome prior to the EPW Committee proceeding with the two year reauthorization is how to fund the bill. The Senate Finance Committee - chaired by senior EPW member Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) -  is tasked with finding $12 billion to fill the gap between what the Boxer/Inhofe bill would authorize and what the Highway Trust Fund can support.  Both Boxer and Baucus have indicated that they are close to identifying where that money will come from but have not made that information public.

AGC and our members have been very active over the August recess in contacting key Senators that sit on both the EPW and Finance Committees urging their support of and funding for the Boxer/Inhofe bill.

We will continue to contact both the House and Senate to ensure that any extension of the surface transportation programs is done at current levels.

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

House Appropriations Subcommittee Cuts Highway and Transit Funding
 

This afternoon, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) voted out their fiscal year 2012 funding bill which significantly slashes funding for Federal-aid highway and Federal Transit programs. AGC urged the subcommittee to refrain from making more cuts to construction accounts when considering the THUD bill.

The bill is designed to use all the resources coming into the highway trust fund and the mass transit account. Itwould cut funding from $41.1 billion to $27.7 billion for highways and $8.3 billion to $5.2 billion for transit.  These funding levels reflect the levels provided in the House passed Budget Resolution, which sought to limit spending from the Highway Trust Fund to the revenue received from the gas tax.

Chairman of the subcommittee Tom Latham (R-Iowa) was adamant in his support for additional funding for Highway Trust Fund programs in later iterations of the legislation if additional resources can be identified. However, he was bound to the funding levels set in the Budget Resolution. Ranking Member John Olver (D-Mass.) offered an amendment to restore the current funding levels.  The amendment failed on a party line vote.

Chairman Latham, and other Republicans on the committee, expressed the need to pass a reauthorization bill and address the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund in the reauthorization.  It is not clear whether or not the THUD appropriations bill will move through the House of Representatives. 

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

House Transportation Committee Marks Up Pipeline Safety Reauthorization
 

On Sept. 7, Representative Bill Shuster (R-Penn.) introduced the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011. This bill would reauthorize the previous pipelines law, the 2006 Pipeline Integrity, Protection, Enforcement, and Safety Act, which expired on Sept. 30, 2010. The bill would strengthen pipeline safety programs, improve the nation’s pipeline network, and ensure the regulatory certainty in pipelines transportation necessary to create jobs.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held a mark-up on the bill the next day, and the bill passed through committee by a voice vote.  The legislation is very close to its Senate companion legislation, the Pipeline Transportation Safety Improvement Act of 2011, which passed out of committee in May. AGC will continue to follow both bills through the process and offer the opinions of the professional excavation community to members of Congress.

To view the T&I’s press release on the bill, please click here.

For more information, please contact Scott Berry at (703) 837-5321 or berrys@agc.org. Return to Top

ENVIRONMENT
AGC Welcomes Decision to Delay New National Ozone Standards
 

On Sept. 2, 2011, the president announced that the administration will delay promulgation of new National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone.  In his statement, the president said that economic concerns and efforts to reduce regulatory burdens and uncertainty led to his decision to delay the new standard until at least 2013.  AGC welcomed the decision having asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to wait on moving forward with new standards until 2013 when the agency is scheduled to finish its next review of the most current science on ozone. 

AGC urged the EPA not to tighten the 2008 ozone standards in a letter last spring.  In the letter, AGC pointed out that the EPA’s proposed range would greatly increase the stringency of the ozone standards again when current implementation steps are just beginning, including new emission restrictions and controls affecting businesses and consumers at a time when the economy is still recovering and unemployment remains high.  The letter argues that any change in the ozone standards must be “requisite” to protect human health or welfare and based on a review of updated scientific information.  AGC’s letter also points out that the range under consideration in unlawful because there is no new scientific evidence to justify strengthening the standards.

AGC’s letter continues, outlining the direct and indirect impacts of tighter ozone standards.  Directly, AGC contractors purchase and use heavy equipment that may be impacted by federal, state, and/or local emissions control strategies selected to achieve the ozone standards.  Indirectly, AGC contractors are impacted by transportation conformity and general conformity decisions that impact growth, development, and infrastructure improvement.

For more background on the impact of EPA’s ozone standards on AGC members, click here.

AGC will continue to follow EPA’s review of the science on ozone and reconsideration of the standards.

For more information, contact Karen Lapsevic at (202)547-4733 or lapsevick@agc.org. Return to Top

AGC PAC
2012 Election Looms Large: AGC PAC Co-Chairs Announce the PAC Path Ahead
 

With control of the White House and Congress at stake in 2012 election, AGC PAC Co-Chairs Doug Pruitt and Ted Aadland presented their AGC PAC and grassroots plan for the construction industry’s impacting the election to state chairmen, regional coordinators, and chapter executives on Thursday September 8. During the conference call with the PAC’s governing body—the AGC PAC Contributions Subcommittee—the co-chairs challenged the state chairmen to meet clear goals for 2012 in their respective states.

Specifically,  state chairman are tasked with raising at least ten percent more than their state’s 2010 election cycle PAC contribution total, recruiting ten new contributors to the PAC, and enlisting ten non-AGC member leaders to participate in AGC grassroots legislative alerts. To help meet those goals, Ted Aadland noted that “AGC of America staff, Doug and I, and your regional coordinators are here to support you in any way we can.”

In addition to the co-chair’s setting the PAC goals, AGC’s Jeff Shoaf relayed the latest federal developments from Washington D.C.  Handling topics from the Special Committee on Deficit Reduction—nicknamed the “Super Committee”—to reauthorization of the federal aviation and surface transportation programs to President Obama’s recent suspension of proposed Environmental Protection Agency emissions regulations, Shoaf explained the situation on the ground and answered contractors’ questions.

Lastly, the conference call attendees provided their input and made calculated decisions on contributions to national party committees, moderate congressional member PACs, and a number of individual candidates. Operating outside a smoke filled-room, AGC PAC continues to communicate with AGC members about the decisions it makes to build a better Congress. This first of many quarterly conference calls with the Contributions Subcommittee will provide a forum for that communication.

For more information, contact Jimmy Christianson at 202-547-5013 or christiansonj@agc.org. Return to Top

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