Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org June 6, 2013
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On the Inside
SMALL BUSINESS
AGC-Supported Small Business Bill Introduced
IMMIGRATION
Senate to Begin Considering Immigration Reform Next Week
BUDGET
House Passes Military Construction & Veterans Affairs’ Annual Funding Bill
FEDERAL CONTRACTING
House Committee Rejects New BRAC Round in Military Authorization Bill
CONGRESS
Chris Christie Appoints NJ Attorney General to the U.S. Senate
Final Vacancy in the U.S. House of Representatives is Filled
LABOR
AGC Responds to Two USACE PLA Inquiries
AGC EVENTS
TCC Fly-In Participants bring Reauthorization Message to Capitol Hill
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SMALL BUSINESS
AGC-Supported Small Business Bill Introduced
TAKE ACTION: Urge Your Representative to Support Counting Lower-Tier Small Businesses
 

On June 4, House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.), along with Reps. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), Scott Peters (D-Calif.) and Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), introduced the AGC-supported Make Every Small Business Count Act of 2013, H.R. 2232.  Please take action now and urge your Congressman to support H.R. 2232.

If enacted, the legislation would allow prime contractors to count lower-tier small business subcontractors towards their small business goals. The current law only allows prime contractors to count first-tier small business subcontractors towards the goals. This simple change will encourage prime contractors to make sure small businesses have opportunities to compete for subcontracts at every tier, thereby allowing more opportunities for small business growth. AGC testified in support of H.R. 2232 before the House Small Business Committee in May.  

Again, please take action now and urge your Congressman to support H.R. 2232.

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

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IMMIGRATION
Senate to Begin Considering Immigration Reform Next Week
Temporary Guest Worker Visa Program Places AGC-Opposed Restrictions on Construction in Current Immigration Bill
 

The Senate will consider the immigration bill, S. 744, Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, in June.  The legislation remains largely intact from the Gang of Eight’s original proposal. S. 744 mandates e-verify; requires photo identification as part of the documentation; eliminates the patchwork of local immigration laws; provides new avenues for legal immigration; and creates a legal status for undocumented workers currently in the United States. The bill also prohibits employers from “knowingly” hiring an undocumented worker.  In addition, the bill includes a temporary worker program.  However, the program places unique restrictions on the construction industry that prevent the industry from fully utilizing the future temporary worker visa program. The House has not formally considered any legislation, but several proposals that deal with reform in a piecemeal basis have been introduced. The House is expected to begin consideration of legislation after the Senate acts on S. 744.

AGC urges you to contact your elected officials regarding a revised temporary guest worker program in immigration reform. As it stands, the Senate’s restriction of the temporary guest worker program for the construction industry is arbitrary and needs to be eliminated. Please tell your Senators to oppose restrictions on the industry and tell your Representatives it is important to not make the same mistakes the Senate did with the temporary guest worker program. If piecemeal reform is the path forward, it must include a temporary worker program component.

For more information, please contact Jim Young at (202) 547-0133 or youngj@agc.org. Return to Top

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BUDGET
House Passes Military Construction & Veterans Affairs’ Annual Funding Bill
Bill Reduces Funding for Military and VA Construction Accounts
 

On June 4, the House voted by a 421-4 margin to approve its version of the FY 2014 funding bill for military construction and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The bill provides $9.95 billion for Department of Defense military construction accounts—a $670 million reduction from pre-sequestration FY 2013 levels and $1.057 billion for VA construction accounts—about an $82 million decrease from FY 2013 levels, as VA accounts were exempt from sequestration.

On the military construction side, most notably, Air Force construction would more than double from $322 million to $1.127 billion, while Army construction would decrease by $583 million—or 35 percent. The Navy and Marine Corps construction account would see a slight increase of $69 million—from $1.548 billion to $1.616 billion. Military family housing accounts would see an overall decrease of $106 million—from $1.649 billion to $1.543 billion.

For the VA, the bill reduces the major construction account by about $190 million—or 36 percent—when compared to last year. The minor construction account actually sees a slight increase of $108 million—or 18 percent—over FY 2013 levels.

For more details on the FY 2014 military and VA construction account figures and projects, please click here.  The Senate is still working on its version of this funding bill. AGC will continue to advocate for adequate construction funding levels that ensure the safety, security and health of our nation’s troops and veterans.

For more information, please contact Jimmy Christianson at 703-837-5325 or christiansonj@agc.org.
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FEDERAL CONTRACTING
House Committee Rejects New BRAC Round in Military Authorization Bill
 

On June 6, the House Armed Services Committee approved its version of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014 (NDAA) by a 59-2 vote. Despite the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and Obama Administration’s call for a new Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) to save costs, the Committee-approved bill would prevent DOD from spending any fiscal year 2014 funds to modify basing strategy. AGC remains committed to advocating that as the needs of DOD shift after a decade of overseas wars come to a close. DOD facilities should reflect these changing needs to better support America’s troops.

During the committee debate and NDAA mark-up, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) argued that anti-BRAC language in the NDAA was too restrictive because it would stop the executive branch from planning for or proposing new BRAC rounds. Rep. Smith’s amendment to provide for some degree of BRAC-related planning failed by an 18-44 vote. Because the mark-up went late into the morning, a final version of the approved NDAA bill is not available. However, please find a copy of the Chairman’s Mark here.

Also, it should be noted that although President Obama did call for another BRAC round in 2015 in his FY 2014 budget, his BRAC budget proposal would not begin a new BRAC until 2016. The president’s budget proposal would also reduce existing BRAC accounts by nearly 16 percent or about $85 million in 2014.

For more information, please contact Jimmy Christianson at 703-837-5325 or christiansonj@agc.org.
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CONGRESS
Chris Christie Appoints NJ Attorney General to the U.S. Senate
 

On Tuesday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) decided to call an immediate special election to replace the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D).  Holding the special vote gives the Democrats what they wanted – a 2013 election.  Christie made sure the special election – scheduled for October 16, 2013 – for the vacant Senate seat will not conflict with his own re-election. The regular constitutional office election, in which Christie will seek his second term as Governor, will occur just three weeks later on November 5.  

The fact that Mr. Christie moved so quickly allowed him to schedule the general vote in a different time frame than his own campaign. New Jersey law limits a special election cycle to a specific number of days. Therefore, he probably avoids what should be a larger number of Democratic voters streaming to the polls to elect a Senator, which theoretically could adversely affect his own prospects. Additionally, the Senate race, and not his own contest, will now likely dominate the October campaign media window thus making it even more difficult for his little-known opponent, state Sen. Barbara Buono (D), to gain any traction.

This afternoon, Gov. Christie appointed state Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa (R), a longtime colleague, to temporarily fill the seat as an interim replacement for Sen. Lautenberg. Prior to serving as the state’s top lawyer, Chiesa advised the governor as his chief counsel. During the press conference, Christie stated that Chiesa did not plan to seek the Republican nomination in the special election.  Former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan (R) and U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.-12) are the only announced candidates.  Also likely to enter the field are U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N..J-6) and Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D).

The special primary is scheduled for August 13.

For more information, please contact David Ashinoff at (202) 547-5013 or ashinoffd@agc.org.
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Final Vacancy in the U.S. House of Representatives is Filled
 

For virtually the first time since the 113th Congress began in early January, the House of Representatives now has all 435 seats filled. On Tuesday, Republican state Rep. Jason Smith won the 8th Congressional District special election, easily outpacing his Democratic state House colleague Steve Hodges.  

Smith scored an impressive 67-27 percent victory in what has become a solidly Republican southeastern Missouri seat as evidenced in Mitt Romney defeating President Obama here 66-32 percent last November.

The special congressional election never captured much attention. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R) announced her resignation in December in order to accept a job in the private sector, and Gov. Jay Nixon (D) then scheduled a very long special election cycle.  Mr. Smith won his party caucus in early February, and Mr. Hodges followed suit on the Democratic side the following week. Thus, the four-month special election began.  

Rep-elect Smith should have little trouble holding this seat in the 2014 regular election and will likely be safe in his new position at least until the districts are redrawn in 2021.

For more information, please contact David Ashinoff at (202) 547-5013 or ashinoffd@agc.org.
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LABOR
AGC Responds to Two USACE PLA Inquiries
 

AGC recently sent two letters opposing the possible use of project labor agreement (PLA) mandates posted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Baltimore and Vicksburg Districts for the construction of a public health command laboratory in Aberdeen, Md., and the west bank non-federal levee and Wilkinson Pump Station in Plaquemines Parish, La.

AGC has sent over 70 letters to federal agencies opposing PLA mandates and bid preferences during the Obama Administration, most in response to agency announcements that a PLA mandate or preference was under consideration for a particular project or an anticipated set of projects in a particular area. Of those, only one PLA mandate has been issued to date.

AGC neither supports nor opposes contractors’ voluntary use of PLAs on government projects, but strongly opposes any government mandate for contractors’ use of PLAs. AGC is committed to free and open competition for publicly funded work, and believes that the lawful labor relations policies and practices of private construction contractors should not be a factor in a government agency’s selection process.

For more information, please contact Jimmy Christianson at (703) 837-5325 or christiansonj@agc.org.
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AGC EVENTS
TCC Fly-In Participants bring Reauthorization Message to Capitol Hill
 

Earlier this week, nearly 400 contractors, suppliers and other construction industry partners participated in the 2013 Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) Fly-In to deliver the message to Congress that MAP-21 needs to be reauthorized on time and the Highway Trust Fund needs to be fixed. TCC members were armed with charts and issue papers which illustrated how – without new revenue on or before Sept. 30, 2014 – highway and transit funding for new projects would plummet in FY 2015 by 92 percent and, in subsequent years, would be significantly reduced. Fly-in participants thanked Congress for passing MAP-21 and including significant reforms in program administration but also pointed out that the job is not done until the Highway Trust Fund solvency is resolved.

The key Congressional leaders of MAP-21 addressed attendees and gave their prognosis for the outlook of a reauthorization moving forward. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and former EPW Ranking Member Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said that finding a way to pay for increased funding would be a top priority. Sen. Boxer indicated that her committee is ready to work in a bipartisan fashion to identify ways to raise the needed revenue. House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and Ranking Member Nick Rahall (D-W.V.) also agreed that finding the needed revenue would prove difficult but is a top priority and stressed their intention to work in a bipartisan manner. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who will soon be leaving that position, called for a big and bold bill with $600 billion in funding over five years. He said he expected President Obama to announce a new transportation proposal in the coming months.

During a separate AGC briefing, members heard from Congressman John Delaney (D-Md.), who has introduced legislation to offer tax incentives to corporations to repatriate profits they maintain out of the U.S. A portion of the repatriated funds would be used to purchase bonds that would capitalize an infrastructure investment fund that would make loans, loan guarantees and other credit assistance for a variety of infrastructure projects. It is estimated that for every $1 in bonds purchased companies would be able to repatriate $4 tax free.  AGC members were also briefed on immigration and tax reform legislation.

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