House-Senate Conference on the Remaining FY 2012 Appropriations Bills Announced
House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) and Senate Appropriations
Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) announced that the House and Senate will hold
a joint Conference Committee meeting on the remaining fiscal year 2012 appropriations
bills beginning Dec. 8. AGC has advocated for this
measure to come together to ensure the vast majority of the federal construction
programs are well funded for the next fiscal year, as this
legislation will include
the remaining nine appropriations for fiscal 2012.
The bill, which may be finalized as early as tomorrow, must
be filed in the House
by Dec. 12 in order to meet the Dec. 16 deadline for when the current
continuing resolution expires. If there is a
chance that the negotiations are taking too long, it has been speculated that
there might be a push for a short, one-week extension to fund the government
through Dec. 23, giving negotiators time to hammer a final agreement.
Congress previously approved the Agriculture,
Commerce/Justice/Science, and Transportation/Housing and Urban Development
Appropriations bills – also known as the “Mini-bus” – in November before the
For more information, please contact Marco Giamberardino at (703)
837-5325 or email@example.com.
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Transportation Reauthorization Update
As the Senate Banking and Science, Commerce
and Transportation Committees aim to markup their respective provisions of the
surface transportation reauthorization bill next week, the Senate Finance
Committee is not moving any closer to marking up their revenue provisions of
the bill. However, Republican members of the Finance Committee shared
their proposed options for funding the legislation – also known as MAP-21 – in
a letter sent to Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.).
The letter, which was
signed by seven of the 12 Republican members of the Finance Committee proposes
the following options to achieve the $12 billion necessary to finance the two-year
reauthorization: $3.5 billion by rescinding funds for the Advanced
Vehicle Technology Manufacturing Loan Program, a $3 billion transfer from the
Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund, reclaiming transfers from the
Highway Trust Fund to the Land and Water Conservation Fund ($2.5 billion over
10 years), expanded oil and gas production in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
(ANWR) and the Outer Continental Shelf ($5.2 billion over 10 years) and
rescinding unspent federal funds (a $30 billion rescission would be required to
net the needed $12 billion).
Although many of the suggested options are
non-starters, the letter is seen as a positive development that Republicans on
the committee are willing to work with Chairman Baucus in securing the money
necessary to fund the Senate surface transportation reauthorization bill.
AGC will continue to press all members of the Senate Finance Committee to take
action on the revenue title of the bill and will monitor the actions of the
Banking and Commerce, Science and Transportation Committees.
On the heels of the disappointing news last week that the House will not move forward with a surface
transportation reauthorization bill this year, a bipartisan group of House
Members, led by Congressmen Aaron Schock (R-Ill.), Pat Meehan (R-PA) , Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) and John Carney (D-Del.), sent a letter to
President Obama expressing their support for a six-year surface transportation
reauthorization bill. The AGC-supported letter, calls for a fully-funded
bill “with investments above current levels” and was signed by over 111 members
of Congress (62 Democrats and 49 Republicans). This effort, along with
the AGC-led letter from Republican House members to Republican Leadership, show
a broad base of support for the House to take swift action on moving a
transportation reauthorization bill when they return in January.
For more information, please contact Sean O’Neill at
(202) 547-8892 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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House Democrats Propose New “Buy American” Requirements as Jobs Package
The leading Democrats on the House
Transportation & Infrastructure Committee proposed legislation instituting
tough new ‘Buy American’ requirements for construction projects. The bill,
“Invest in American Jobs Act of 2011” (H.R. 3533), will require all steel, iron and
manufactured goods used in the covered construction categories to be produced
in the U.S. Covered categories include federal-aid highway, rail, public
transit, Amtrak, aviation, wastewater and FEMA mitigation projects. Many of
these categories have pre-existing requirements that would be superseded by
this bill’s more stringent requirements. Other programs have little experience
with Buy American requirements outside of Recovery Act projects.
The legislation preserves the
traditional opportunities for waivers: where compliance is not in the public
interest, where American goods are unavailable in sufficient quantity or of
sufficient quality, or where use of American goods increases the total project
cost by 25 percent or more. However, the legislation requires regulations to be
developed that outline the situations where a public interest waiver would
apply (previously it was left to the agencies to determine) and they also
remove labor costs from the determination of total project costs. At this point
it is also unclear how they will define what constitutes being “produced in the
United States” as there are multiple definitions in existing law for different
programs covered by this legislation.
While it is unlikely to move on its
own, the question now is whether the bill will be inserted into the surface transportation
reauthorization legislation that is working its way through Congress. Chairman
Mica does not seem opposed to the idea and has been quoted in Politico as saying “I’m basically for it...in principal;
I’m a Buy America kind of guy.” AGC will continue to oppose these artificial
restrictions on the construction supply chain and educate lawmakers on their
negative impacts on our industry.
For more information on Buy
American, visit AGC’s Buy American information clearinghouse here.
For more information, contact
Scott Berry at (703) 837-5321 or email@example.com.
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U.S. House Passes Legislation Targeting Regulatory Burdens
On Dec. 7, 2011, the U.S. House passed H.R. 10, the
“Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act”, by a margin
of 241 to 184.
The AGC-supported bill would require Congress to scrutinize major rules and
affirmatively approve any new major rule before it could be imposed on
employers. The REINS Act is limited to new “major rules” (i.e., rules having an
impact on the economy of $100 million or more), therefore impacting only a small
fraction of all rules promulgated each year (about 26 rules in the pipeline
meet that threshold. They include new regulations on Crystalline Silica, Hours
of Service and Hazardous Communications), while covering those with the most
significant impact on the economy.
Contractors and project owners must already comply with a
myriad of complex federal, state and local legal and regulatory requirements
throughout the construction process including, but not limited to, zoning,
procurement, environmental, labor, and health and safety. Meeting these
requirements has become an increasingly burdensome responsibility for
contractors and, in some cases, delaying, if not threatening construction
projects and increasing the cost of doing business. Recent studies have put the
current regulatory compliance price tag on American businesses and individuals
at more than $1 trillion annually.
AGC supported the REINS Act and sent Congress a letter of
support. AGC also provided Congressional leaders information earlier this year
on specific regulations impacting the construction industry at a hearing
on regulatory roadblocks.
In addition to the REINS Act, the House passed two
bipartisan bills last week that would require federal agencies to take
additional steps to ensure their regulations are not unduly burdensome on
businesses. The Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act passed 263-159 and the
Regulatory Accountability Act passed 253-167. Together, these
bills will limit the regulatory burdens placed on businesses and individuals.
For more information, please contact Jim Young at (202) 547-0133 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Pipeline Safety Legislation Moves Through House
Legislation that that enhances pipeline safety and
reliability in transporting our nation’s utility resources had previously
passed two committees in the House. Now, newly agreed upon language to
amend the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011
(H.R. 2845), will reauthorize federal pipeline safety programs through fiscal
year 2015. Pipeline safety and the prevention of underground facility damages
has been a top priority for AGC and this legislation is a significant step
forward in the process to provide greater regulatory certainty and
predictability for construction contractors.
The bill does a few things of interest to excavators. First,
for violations, it increases the penalty ceiling from $100K to $250K and
removes the ability to pay from penalty considerations. Second, the bill
creates new criteria that a one-call must meet to be eligible for federal grant
- appropriate participation by all underground
facility operators, including all government operators;
- appropriate participation by all excavators,
including all government and contract excavators;
- flexible and effective enforcement under State
law with respect to participation in, and use of, one-call notification
Third, the bill also bans one-calls from exempting
municipalities, State agencies, or their contractors from their one-call
notification system requirements. These provisions would take effect 2 years
after the bill becomes law.
Finally, the bill calls for a study on the impact of
excavation damage on pipeline safety, focusing on the comparison of the
frequency and severity of different types of excavation damage incidents with
regards to the various exemptions to the one-call notification system
requirements in each State. Previous version of this study focused exclusively
on 3rd party excavation damage, but AGC called for the study to
include all types of damages to be more comprehensive in nature.
The House may consider the
legislation as early as next week, and with the Senate bill already
passed through unanimous consent, this may be in time to send a bill to the
President’s desk before the end of the year.
For more information,
contact Scott Berry at (703) 837-5321 or email@example.com.
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