Construction Industry Under Attack – Urge Your Senator to Stand Up for the Construction Industry in Immigration Debate
A bi-partisan group of Senators – Schumer (D-N.Y.), McCain
(R-Ariz.), Durbin (D-Ill.), Graham (R-S.C.), Menendez (D-N.J.), Rubio (R-Fla.),
Bennet (D-Colo.), and Flake (R-Ariz.) – are working on an important piece of
immigration reform – the future temporary worker visa program. These Senators
are currently considering excluding the construction industry from any future
temporary worker visa program. That would make construction the only industry
not eligible to legally bring in temporary workers if they are needed. Very few details have been agreed upon, but
this is the first contentious issue being fought over. The construction
industry employs nearly 6 million people; forecasts show the industry adding
two million more people to construction payrolls by 2020. The last time
major immigration reform was signed into law was 1986, so if this bi-partisan
group continues to move forward along these lines, the construction industry
may be forced to comply with these rules for decades.
Tell your Senators to object to any effort to exclude
construction employers from being able to access legal foreign temporary workers
in the future. The scope of the temporary worker visa program should be the
same for all industries. Your Senator needs to know that singling out an
industry makes no sense. The nation’s immigration policy should be guided
by economics and sound rational policy across all industries. It should
not be guided by fear and misconceptions. Taking away the tools our industry may need in
the future will only hurt the industry's ability to adapt to economic cycles
and growth in the future. Please
call or write your Senator now as negotiations are nearing completion.
For more information, please contact Jim Young at (202) 547-0133 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Federal Funding In Place through September 30 for All Federal Agencies
Sequester Remains But Agencies Gain Some Flexibility & Includes Increased Transportation Funding
a strong personal push by AGC lobbyists and a grassroots effort by AGC members,
the Senate included increased funding levels for federal highway and transit programs
for the remainder of fiscal year 2013.
The bill, H.R. 933, the Consolidated and Continuing Appropriations Act
of 2013, survived a cloture vote of 63-36 (less than 60
yes votes would have killed the bill) and ultimately passed the Senate by a
vote of 73-26. The funding measure then easily passed by the
House of Representatives today by a vote of 318-109. It
now goes to the president for his signature.
Passage of the bill maintains the MAP-21 authorized funding
levels of $109 billion for two years. Without
the Senate including the increased levels in their bill, it was estimated to
shortchange highway funding by $555 million and transit funding by $117
The bill was partly a continuing resolution and an omnibus
appropriations bill as it included five individual appropriations bills:
Defense, Military Construction/Veterans Affairs, Agriculture, Homeland
Security, and Commerce/Justice/State. H.R.
933 leaves in place the $85 billion in cuts from the March 1 sequester, but by
changing the account-level priorities within each agency in the five individual
appropriations bills, the respective agencies can lessen some of the more
disruptive effects of the sequester. For the other bills not included in either
version of the package, H.R. 933 simply extends the existing continuing
resolution (Public Law 112-175) through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30,
2013. Unfortunately, the prohibition on new starts for federal
construction projects continues for those agencies not included in the five
individual appropriations bills.
Also included in the bill was funding for the Clean Water
Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRF). The Clean Water SRF received $1.45
billion and the Drinking Water SRF received $908.7 million – a total cut for
the SRFs of $27.5 million, or a 1 percent reduction from FY12. It is important
to remember, however, that last Congress, the House Interior/Environment
Appropriations Subcommittee approved a 53 percent cut in its FY 2013 bill for
the Clean Water SRF and a cut of nearly 10 percent for the Drinking Water SRF.
The Rural Utilities Service Rural Water and Waste Disposal Loan Program,
however was one of the few winners, receiving $524.4 million, an increase of
$11.4 million, or 2 percent, over FY 2012.
As the House and Senate begin fiscal year 2014
appropriations process, AGC will continue to advocate for Congress to provide
adequate investment levels for federal construction programs. For more information,
please contact Sean O’Neill at (202) 547-8892 or email@example.com.
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House Approves Budget – Senate Version Likely This Week
On Thursday, the House completed action on Budget Committee Chairman
Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) version of a FY 2014 budget resolution mostly by a
party-line vote of 221 to 207. While the budget resolution is
nonbinding, it nevertheless establishes the overall framework for funding
government programs for next year. The Ryan budget provides an ambitious plan
to balance the federal budget and have a $7 billion surplus in 10 years.
To get there, the budget forecasts cuts of $5.7 trillion – compared to the
Congressional Budget Office (CBO) baseline –calls for the repeal of ObamaCare,
and calls for lowering the top tax rate
to 25 percent.
The House budget projects a significant drop in highway and transit
spending in FY 2015 because of insufficient Highway Trust Fund revenue and
would restrict the ability of Congress to transfer general fund revenue to help
bail it out. In addition, unlike last year, this year’s resolution does not
include a “reserve fund” that would allow transportation spending to rise above
current Highway Trust Fund (HTF) supported levels even if lawmakers agree to
additional revenue increases. In the text explaining the numbers in the budget
is the following statement: “The mechanisms of federal highway and transit
spending have become distorted, leading to imprudent, irresponsible, and often
downright wasteful spending." The explanation goes on to talk about
high-speed rail, stating "high-speed and other intercity rail projects
should be pursued only if they can be established as self-supporting commercial
services. The budget eliminates these projects."
Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray’s version of the budget is
currently being debated and is expected to be approved before the spring recess
begins next week. The Senate budget –
the first in four years -takes a much different tact than the House. It calls
for increased revenue of $923 billion over 10 years and $875 billion in
spending cuts. The Senate’s version does not aim to balance the budget;
instead it would impose tax increases by eliminating certain deductions and is
estimated to result in annual deficits of approximately $500 -$600 billion in
For transportation, the Murray budget keeps funding
slightly below current levels over the next 10 years. However, the plan
calls for $50 billion in immediate (FY 2013) transportation investment, $10
billion in FY 2013 to fund an infrastructure bank, $10 billion for Corps of
Engineers water projects, and $20 billion for high-tech investment. The
bill does not detail where this additional infrastructure spending would come
from. The Murray budget contains a
reserve fund to allow transportation spending to increase should Congress raise
the necessary revenue. A second reserve fund would also be established for Harbor
Maintenance Trust Fund spending.
For more information, please contact Brian Deery at (703) 837-5319 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Senate Panel Unanimously Approves Water Resources Development Act Bill
On March 20, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW)
Committee unanimously approved a Water
Resources Development Act (WRDA). This bill represents a bipartisan effort
to address our nation’s aging navigational system of inland waterways, coastal
harbors and ports, locks and dams, and flood control protections and a
commitment to restore critical environmental areas.
In the letter
to EPW Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Ranking Member
David Vitter (R-La.), AGC noted that the bill represents a positive step
forward towards making long-desired, critical water resources infrastructure
projects a reality. The bill would allow projects with completed Chief of
Engineers reports to be authorized in an efficient manner. In addition,
the bill would seek to further leverage government funds for water
infrastructure projects through an innovative financing pilot project
program—referred to as the Water Infrastructure Finance and
Innovation Act (WIFIA)—which can help our nation meet its infrastructure
improvement needs. Also, AGC noted its appreciation for the bill’s commitment
to help ensure that the nation’s federally-maintained harbor and port
navigation channels are fully maintained by expending Harbor Maintenance Trust
Fund revenues for their authorized and intended purpose.
Although this WRDA bill is not perfect, it is the first step
in what needs to be a truly bipartisan and a bicameral effort. As the
bill works through the legislative process, AGC will support additional reforms
in the area of project delivery and environmental streamlining to more quickly
complete critical water resources infrastructure so taxpayers can reap the
rewards of their benefits. For more information, contact Jimmy Christianson at
703-837-5325 or email@example.com.
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AGC Signs on to Letter Calling for Protection of Tax Exempt Municipal Bonds
AGC and a diverse group of more than 55 national coalition
partners representing state and local governments, housing and infrastructure
developers, transportation groups and private industry, have urged the U.S. Senate to
support the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds which local and state governments
use to build America’s schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, airports, public
transit, water systems and other essential public infrastructure.
In a letter sent March 20 to Majority Leader Harry Reid
(D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the group expressed
concern about language in the Senate Fiscal 2014 Budget Resolution which
suggests the possibility of a cap being placed on tax expenditures which could
include the exemption for interest earned on municipal bonds. The groups
are seeking assurance that the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds will not be
changed as part of comprehensive tax reform.For
more information, please contact Scott Berry at (703) 837-5321 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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Mark Sanford Clears the First Hurdle of His Political Comeback
On Tuesday, former South Carolina
Gov. Mark Sanford (R) easily claimed the top position in the 1st Congressional
District's special primary last night, capturing 37 percent of the vote within a
huge field of sixteen Republican candidates. He will advance to the April 2nd
run-off election against former Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic, who
nipped state Sen. Larry Grooms for second place.
The former Governor and three-term
Congressman broke 40 percent in his home of Charleston County, the district's
most populous region. But, in terms of the fast approaching run-off election,
even his 41 percent finish in Charleston is a light year away from scoring a 50
percent plus one vote majority. District-wide, 63 percent of the Republicans
who went to the polls chose a candidate other than Sanford, even though the
former Governor has universal name identification. Still, considering the
hardened negative image after his extra-marital affair with an Argentine
mistress became international news, Mr. Sanford's showing last night does
indicate that he retains a base of residual support.
Mr. Bostic, the man the ex-Governor
will face in the run-off election, claimed 13 percent of the vote, edging state
Sen. Grooms' 12 percent. Teddy Turner, the son of media mogul Ted Turner,
finished fourth with 8 percent. It was a disappointing night for the sitting
Republican state legislators. Aside from Grooms, none of the other three came
close to reaching the top tier as state Reps. Andy Patrick (7 percent), Chip
Limehouse (6 percent), and Peter McCoy (2 percent) all performed poorly.
Though heavily outspent, Mr. Bostic
commanded a strong grassroots campaign and his background as a public official,
community activist, major non-profit organizer, and attorney will compare
favorably to Sanford. He will now be in a position to take advantage of
the opportunity to coalesce the vast majority of the anti-Sanford votes.
For the Democrats, Elizabeth Colbert
Busch, sister of Comedy Central comedian Stephen Colbert, captured almost all
of her party's votes. She scored a 96-4 percent win versus former congressional
nominee Ben Frasier, who spent less than $10,000 on the primary race.
It is clear that last night's
primary election was a victory in Mark Sanford's quest for a political
comeback. But, will it be short lived? In looking ahead to the next challenge,
a head-to-head contest against a highly credible opponent, this election
performance might mark the last such win he experiences.
Sanford has time and money on his side. Bostic clearly has a
strong organization and the ability to contrast Sanford's negative image.
Should Bostic win the run-off, the seat will be his as Democratic nominee
Elizabeth Colbert Busch will be no match for a more positive Republican. Should
Sanford squeak through to obtain the nomination, then she will be very much
alive and the national GOP will again have to expend large amounts of money to
protect what should be a very safe seat.For
more information, please contact David Ashinoff at (202) 547-5013 or email@example.com.
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Federal Agencies to Discuss P3 Market at 2013 Federal Contractors Conference
April 23-25 | Washington, D.C.
In addition to discussions with lead personnel representing
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, the
Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), General Services Administration (GSA),
Department of Energy, Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Overseas
Building Operations, and more, this year’s 2013
Federal Contractors Conference attendees will hear from a panel of
construction industry and federal agency experts on public private partnerships
(PPP) for both horizontal and vertical projects.
During the PPP session, a concessionaire—the Bank of
Montreal and a contractor attorney working on the Presidio Parkway PPP in San
Francisco—will discuss the potential risks, rewards and opportunities for all construction
contractors seeking innovative financing opportunities. Additionally,
representatives from GSA and FHWA will discuss the federal opportunities their
agencies have for PPP work on the building and highway markets.
As federal construction funding continues to stagnate,
innovative financing options will likely be considered viable funding
supplements. Consequently, the individual agency sessions at the conference
will include questions for agency representatives concerning their plans to
explore PPP project options. For more information or to register, visit www.agc.org/fedcon.
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