Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org September 19, 2013
Spacer
AGC Home Page
Email our Editor
Search Back Issues
Forward to a Friend
Subscribe
Printer Friendly
AGC Political Toolkit
RSS
Advertisement
Take Action!
On the Inside
BUDGET
Fiscal Deadlines Loom
INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT
WRRDA Unanimously Passes House Committee
Manufacturers: Deteriorating Infrastructure Hurts Competitiveness
Bridge Study Offers Dire Warning
TRANSPORTATION
DOT Seeks More Comments on Proposed DBE Rule Changes
Senate Committee Addresses MAP-21 Streamlining Implementation
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
BUDGET
Fiscal Deadlines Loom
 

Two major fiscal deadlines are fast approaching and Congress has no clear path forward on either one.  First, the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30 and, because none of the 12 annual funding bills have been signed into law, Congress must pass a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government operating past September.  Second, the debt limit will need to be increased somewhere around Oct. 15.

As reported in last week’s CLWIR, a small group of conservative members forced House Republican leaders to shelve their plans to pass a clean CR, which included a provision that would have forced the Senate to vote on defunding Obamacare, but did not directly link that vote to the passage of the CR.  Instead, the House will vote tomorrow on a CR that will defund Obamacare and fund the government at current levels through Dec. 15.  The CR also incorporates language instructing the Treasury Department on how to prioritize payments in the event the debt ceiling is not raised. 

This strategy in the House is guaranteed to fail in the Senate.  Today, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) – who, along with Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), has called for shutting down the government over defunding Obamacare – conceded that the House effort to repeal Obamacare has no chance of passing the Senate.  The Democrat-controlled Senate will instead strip the Obamacare and debt ceiling language from the CR and send it back to the House, which will be forced to pass a clean CR next week or face the threat of shutting down the government.  If this scenario plays out, the same conservatives will still insist on shutting down the government over defunding Obamacare and Speaker Boehner will likely need to pass the Senate version of the CR by breaking the “Hastert Rule,” which says a majority of the majority party should vote yes on any bill that is brought to the House Floor for a vote.

In addition to having to take action on the Senate CR next week, the House is planning to bring up a package that would increase the debt limit for one year with a mix of other provisions that are intended to garner support from enough House Republicans to pass without Democrat votes. The package is likely to include a one-year delay of Obamacare, approval of the Keystone Pipeline, and a variety of economic growth proposals that have previously passed the House.  The president and congressional Democrats will oppose this bill and once again there will be a fight over how the U.S. continues to meet its obligations – assuming the government hasn’t been shutdown.

For more information, please contact Sean O’Neill at (202) 547-8892 or oneills@agc.org. Return to Top
Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Advertisement
INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT
WRRDA Unanimously Passes House Committee
TAKE ACTION: Urge Your Representative to Pass WRRDA
 

Today, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), H.R. 3080, on a unanimous, bipartisan voice vote. Please take action and urge your U.S. Representative to support H.R. 3080.

The WRRDA bill authorizes approximately $10 billion for new construction projects--navigation, flood control, locks, dams, and environment restoration--through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) Civil Works program.  

To view the new projects, see pages 155-160 of the bill. Aside from authorizing new projects, the bill includes a host of other AGC contractor priorities, including project delivery and environmental streamlining, improving the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund and Inland Waterways Trust Fund, and a public-private partnership pilot program that leverages, but does not replace, government funding for water resources projects. You can also find a detailed, side-by-side analysis of the House and Senate bills here.

As with the Senate’s passage of its WRDA bill, AGC has actively pressed for its WRRDA priorities in the House. Over the last two weeks alone, AGC has met with over 50 House offices, coordinated the signatures of 56 AGC chapters on a business community WRRDA support letter in anticipation of House action, sent letters of support through two AGC-co-chaired multi-industry coalitions – the Transportation Construction Coalition and the Water Resources Coalition – as well as sending AGC's own letter in support.  AGC continues advocate and coordinate concerted support for passage of a pro-reform and pro-water resources infrastructure investment WRRDA bill.

 Action on the House WRRDA bill now moves to the House floor, where a vote is expected in October. If the House passes a WRRDA bill, a conference committee comprised of members from both chambers will commence to reconcile the differences between the bills before final passage, as the Senate passed its WRRDA bill, S. 601, in May. AGC will continue to press for enactment of a WRRDA bill that includes the construction industry’s priorities.

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

Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Manufacturers: Deteriorating Infrastructure Hurts Competitiveness
 

This week, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) spoke loudly in support of infrastructure investment. NAM released the results of a survey of their members in Philadelphia, which showed that manufacturers respect the role infrastructure plays in international competitiveness. The survey revealed that NAM members feel that America’s infrastructure is not improving at a pace to keep up with the needs of businesses.  Some members may be willing to pay more in taxes, tolls, and fees, but need assurances first (such as tying new fees to direct infrastructure investments).  A majority of NAM members say that infrastructure is so important that all options to fund it should be on the table, and many worry that U.S. infrastructure is not positioned to respond to future competitive demands.  Their release read, in part, “Infrastructure matters to manufacturers. We rely on a strong infrastructure to move people, products and ideas”.

For a summary of the survey, please click here. For more details, please click here.
Return to Top
Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Bridge Study Offers Dire Warning
 

An Associated Press (AP) analysis of over 607,000 bridges from the most recent National Bridge Inventory shows that 65,605 were classified as “structurally deficient” and 20,808 as “fracture critical.”  Of those, nearly 8,000 had a combination of significant disrepair and risk of collapse.  AP specifically cites bridges in the states of Pennsylvania, Washington, Connecticut, Minnesota and the District of Columbia.  The AP story on their analysis can be found here.

The analysis cites the fact that many of the bridges in the United States were erected between 1950 and 1970, and that they are exceeding their designed life expectancy, yet are still carrying traffic.  In many instances, these bridges are in need of major rehabilitation or replacement, but the lack of local, state, and federal funding is preventing these projects from moving forward.  Instead, many of these bridges are simply being repaired to avoid further deterioration.

This analysis is just another example of the need to address funding for our nation’s infrastructure at all levels of government.  AGC of America and its chapters continue to push for additional funding at the state and federal levels to address the growing needs of our nation’s surface transportation network.

For more information, please contact Sean O’Neill at (202) 547-8892 or oneills@agc.org
Return to Top
Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
TRANSPORTATION
DOT Seeks More Comments on Proposed DBE Rule Changes
 

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced that it is seeking further comments on its proposed changes to its Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program regulations, which were initially released on Sept. 6, 2012.  A “listening session” (public hearing) has been scheduled for Oct. 9, 2013, in Washington, D.C and the opportunity to comment has been reopened until Oct. 30. When the proposed rule changes were released last year, DOT claimed that they were minor in nature and intended to adopt them as quickly as possible.  AGC of America submitted detailed comments, as did 18 AGC chapters and more than 125 individual AGC contractor members. In addition, AGC has had several high level meetings with DOT to discuss the ramifications of the rule change. As a result, DOT decided the rule change was a “significant” rule and, therefore, more input and analysis was necessary.

The “listening session” will be held onOct. 9, 2013, at the U.S. Department of Transportation (1200 New Jersey Ave SE, Washington, D.C.).  (NOTE: Space and phone lines are limited, so seats/phone lines will be granted on a first-come, first-served basis).  ALL Participants MUST register by Oct. 2, 2013 at www.dot.gov/osdbu.

AGC of America will have a spokesperson participate in the listening session. AGC chapters have also been encouraged to have a representative at the hearing, listening in by phone and/or submit comments.

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

Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Senate Committee Addresses MAP-21 Streamlining Implementation
 

This week, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held another hearing to monitor implementation of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) legislation. The focus of this week’s hearing was the project delivery and environmental streamlining provisions in the law. Representatives of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) each testified. DOT reported that the law requires between 50-60 different rule makings and that it has issued guidance on all of the provisions and is focused on finalizing the priority rules first. DOT also noted that the new categorical exclusion (CE) provision for emergency projects was extremely helpful in moving forward with the repair of the Sagit river bridge in Washington state that partially collapsed after being hit by an oversized truck last year. MAP-21 expanded the types of projects that can be included as a CE, a designation that allows for a more abbreviated and speedy environmental review.

DOT said the streamlining provisions in MAP-21 were very helpful in moving projects to construction more quickly without undermining environmental protections. The FWS representative, on the other hand, was critical of the provisions. EPW Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who championed not only MAP-21 but specifically the environmental reforms defended the provisions and said that the complaints made by the Fish and Wildlife witness were a result of not fully comprehending the changes made. AGC submitted a letter praising the MAP-21 streamlining provisions as important reforms that moved vitally needed transportation improvements to the construction phase more expeditiously.

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

Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

AGC Townhouse, 53 D Street SE • Washington, DC 20003 • 202.547.1625 (phone) • 202.547.1635 (fax)• www.agc.org
AGC Home | About AGC | Advocacy | Industry Topics | Construction Markets | Programs & Events | Career Development | News & Media

To ensure delivery of AGC’s Construction Legislative Week in Review, please add 'communications@agc.org' to your email address book or Safe Sender List. If you are still having problems receiving our communications, visit our white-listing page for more details.

© Copyright The Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America. All Rights Reserved.