Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org February 14, 2013
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On the Inside
BUDGET
Senate Democrats Propose Buffet Tax and Spending Cuts as an Alternative to Sequestration
ADMINISTRATION
President Reiterates Priorities in the State of the Union
WATER INFRASTRUCTURE
TAKE ACTION: Ask Your Members of Congress to Join the Mississippi River Valley and Tributaries Caucus
TRANSPORTATION
House T&I Committee Holds Hearing on the Federal Government’s Role in Infrastructure
AGC EVENTS
Register Early for 2013 AGC Federal Contractors Conference & Save $100
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BUDGET
Senate Democrats Propose Buffet Tax and Spending Cuts as an Alternative to Sequestration
 

On Feb. 14, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) unveiled his plan to replace the March 1 implementation of $85 billion in indiscriminate, across-the-board spending cuts—called sequestration—with an even balance of spending cuts and tax revenues. The plan includes a 30 percent minimum tax rate for personal income over $1 million, a change in the tax treatment of employment opportunities outside the US, and a new tax on oil from tar sands that will go into the oil spill liability trust fund (these provisions are expected to raise about $5 billion this year and $55 billion over the next ten years).  It also redirects and delays the planned sequester cuts by phasing in $27.5 billion in defense cuts over a six year period starting in 2015.  In addition the plan will reduce farm subsidies by imposing a means test over a 10 year period.

Sen. Reid’s proposal faces opposition from House Republicans and even some Senate Democrats. Last Congress, House Republicans passed a bill that would have replaced the defense cuts in the sequester with all spending cuts, specifically to the president's health care law and food stamp program, among other things. House Republicans continue to consider the spending cut-only path as the only alternative.  Meanwhile, some Senate Democrats have called for an alternative measure that includes a ratio of 80 percent in tax revenues to 20 percent in spending cuts to replace the sequester. At this point, a number of members of Congress continue to say they expect sequester to happen and that no deal will happen before March 1.

AGC recently updated its sequestration report, detailing the possible impacts of sequestration on the federal construction market. According to AGC's analysis, sequestration could cut approximately $4 billion federal construction investments in FY 2013 alone. As a result of the two month delay of sequestration enacted by the American Taxpayer Relief Act (the "Fiscal Cliff Deal"), $24 billion in overall federal budget cuts in FY 2013 were averted, leading to the change in initial AGC estimates of over $6 billion in potential cuts to federal construction spending.

AGC also previously held a free webinar for members on the possible impacts of the sequestration cuts, including federal construction contracting agencies' possible changes in their contracting behavior. AGC continues to strongly urge Congress and President Obama to enact sensible debt reduction reforms and avert these indiscriminate sequestration cuts.

For more information, please contact Jimmy Christianson at (703) 837-5325 or christiansonj@agc.org. Return to Top

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ADMINISTRATION
President Reiterates Priorities in the State of the Union
 

The State of the Union speech is designed to set up administration goals, identify legislative priorities, identify priorities for federal agencies and provide rhetorical guidance for congress. This year’s speech expounded on the president’s inaugural address, which talked about economic growth, equal pay, climate change, immigration, same sex marriage and preserving the social safety net. He also called for compromise, reasoned debate and accepting partial victories.  The State of the Union also reiterated policy goals, such as helping the middle class, equal pay, climate change, immigration and gun control. He was also address the impending sequester, eliminating tax “loopholes”, helping manufacturing, adding job training in high schools, and increasing the minimum wage. 

President Obama also resurrected items from past speeches and budgets, including the American Jobs Act, energy security, energy efficiency and a fix-it-first plan for infrastructure.  Even though these infrastructure items are reiterations of past speeches, there are few details regarding these proposals. There may be more information forthcoming in the president’s budget, which is expected to be released in March. 

In tone there was little new. While the president did talk about meeting national challenges in a way that identifies what is best for the country, he also threatened to act unilaterally on carbon emissions if Congress refused to pass legislation.  In short, other than the minimum wage increase, there was little difference in the president’s proposals or tone.  It set no path for compromise or long term collaboration. Unfortunately, this could forecast yet another difficult legislative session and may also be a sign that we have already begun the 2014 election cycle in earnest.

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

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WATER INFRASTRUCTURE
TAKE ACTION: Ask Your Members of Congress to Join the Mississippi River Valley and Tributaries Caucus
 

Members of the House and Senate recently formed a caucus in their respective bodies dedicated to addressing issues of importance to the Mississippi River Valley and Tributaries region. Among those issues, the caucus will seek to raise awareness of water resources issues, including the enactment of a new Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) bill. Go to AGC’s Legislative Action Center to urge your members of Congress to join the caucus and support water resources and infrastructure projects.

With over 250 of the 535 members of the 113th Congress elected in either 2010 or 2012, many Representatives and Senators were not in office for the previous passage of a WRDA bill in 2007. This caucus and AGC will work together to educate these new members about the important role the construction industry plays in the Mississippi River Valley and tributaries area.

AGC thanked those Senators—Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Tom Harkin (D- Iowa)—and Representatives—Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.), Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Cedric Richmond (D-La.)—for their leadership in forming the caucus.

Again, please go to www.agc.org/lac  to urge your Members of Congress to join the caucus and support water resources and infrastructure projects.

For more information, please contact Jimmy Christianson at (703) 837-5325 or christiansonj@agc.org. Return to Top

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TRANSPORTATION
House T&I Committee Holds Hearing on the Federal Government’s Role in Infrastructure
 

Yesterday, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure held its first hearing of the 113th Congress focusing on the importance of infrastructure to the U.S. economy and examining the role played by the Federal Government in ensuring safe, efficient, and reliable infrastructure.

Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) highlighted how the quality of the nation’s infrastructure affects the lives of Americans in many ways on a daily basis, and how the Federal role in ensuring a strong transportation network is firmly rooted in the first days of the nation.  The hearing highlighted the federal role in all modes of infrastructure, but with a more specific focus on finding the revenue necessary for paying for the next surface transportation reauthorization.   

All three hearing witnesses - Former Governor of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell; President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Tom Donahue; and Terry O'Sullivan General President of the Laborers Union – expressed their support for a strong federal role in our nation's infrastructure and urged the committee to move the legislation that addresses our country's infrastructure needs.

With many new members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, AGC is in the process of meeting with those members and educating them on the need to pass legislation authorizing the Water Resources Development Act, state revolving funds for safe and clean drinking water, and finding the funding source necessary to reauthorize MAP-21.

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

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AGC EVENTS
Register Early for 2013 AGC Federal Contractors Conference & Save $100
April 23-25, 2013 | Mayflower Hotel, Washington, D.C.
 

The AGC Federal Contractors Conference will be held April 23 -  25 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC. Attendees will hear directly from a host of headquarters representatives from a number of federal agencies about their upcoming projects, including:

  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • U.S. Naval Facilities Engineering Command
  • U.S. Air Force Center for Engineering and the Environment
  • General Services Administration
  • Department of Veterans Affairs

In addition, for the first time, attendees will have a chance to meet with representatives from the Department of Energy (DOE). With a multi-billion dollar annual construction budget, DOE is one of the largest federal government owners.  DOE representatives will discuss their construction program and how contractors can successfully compete for and work on DPE projects. DOE will also address traditional building construction projects available through the agency.

For more information and to register, please go to www.agc.org/fedcon. Register by March 15 to save $100! Return to Top

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