Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org December 12, 2013
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On the Inside
BUDGET
Congress Reaches Two-year Budget Deal
FEDERAL CONTRACTING
AGC Testifies Against Reverse Auctions During Congressional Hearing
Defense Bill Includes AGC-Supported Small Business Provision
LABOR
AGC Opposes Government-Mandated PLAs by Army Corps and Navy
AGC EVENTS
Hotel Deadline for Financial Issues Forum Fast Approaching
What Large and Small Businesses Should Know About the Updated SBA Mentor-Protégé Program
ELECTIONS
Clark Wins Special Election
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BUDGET
Congress Reaches Two-year Budget Deal
Measure Clears Way for Action on AGC Legislative Priorities
 

This week, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R.-Wis.) and Senate Budget Chairperson Patty Murray (D-Wash.) announced a two year budget deal. The budget deal, which passed the House by a vote of 332-94, sets overall levels for discretionary spending for fiscal years 2014 and 2015. It also partially mitigates the impact of the across-the-board sequestration cuts for both years.  The Senate is expected to vote on the deal next week before adjourning. 

Specifically, the budget deal sets spending caps for 2014 and 2015 at $1.012 and $1.014 trillion, respectively.  It also uses $85 billion in offsets to provide $63 billion in sequester relief and $23 billion in net deficit reduction. 

Although the budget deal is small in scale, it provides four promising signs for AGC priorities. First, it creates agreed-upon budget numbers for the House and Senate. Such budget certainty minimizes the threat of a government shutdown in January that could adversely impact contractors working on federal projects. It also increases the chances of Congress passing an all-agency spending bill for fiscal year2014, instead of a year-long continuing resolution that would prohibit new federal construction project starts.  The budget deal will also likely lead to a more traditional appropriations process for fiscal year 2015.  That means that Congress can actually analyze federal spending priorities and make difficult decisions to eliminate bad programs and continue good programs. The traditional appropriations process is the only time Congress performs a line-by-line analysis of every federal program, which has not happened since 2006. 

The detailed analysis also provides a forum for allowing Congress to have a say over regulations proposed by the Obama administration. 

Third, it establishes the fact that Congress can work in a bipartisan manner.  Every item on the AGC agenda – whether it is tax reform, immigration reform, entitlement reform or a long-term highway authorization – is contingent upon bipartisan agreements in both the House and Senate.

Fourth, the deal recognizes the need for government programs to be paid for and it solidly states that those who benefit from government pensions should pay a little more for their retirement security and those who fly should pay a higher “user fee” for their aviation security .  

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

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FEDERAL CONTRACTING
AGC Testifies Against Reverse Auctions During Congressional Hearing
 

AGC Federal and Heavy Construction Division Vice Chair Nigel Cary of Cox Construction, San Diego, Calif., testified in opposition to reverse auctions before a joint hearing of the House Veterans Affairs and Small Business Committees on December 11.

At the hearing, AGC’s Cary noted that the reverse auction process ignores the unique nature of construction. General contractors, specialty contractors, subcontractors and suppliers offer and provide a mix of services, materials and systems. They do not “manufacture” buildings, highways, or other facilities.

The Committees called on AGC to testify given the association’s extensive involvement in educating federal agencies as to the risks of procuring construction services through online reverse auctions. Specifically, AGC has recently pushed back against the Department of the Interior and Department of Veterans Affairs  in opposition to their use of reverse auctions for construction. Additionally, AGC recently sent a letter to and met with the General Services Administration on its online reverse auction  platform that enables any federal agency to conduct the procurement of certain construction services and materials through an online reverse auction.  AGC also testified before the House Small Business Committee in May, urging it to introduce legislation, which it did, to prohibit reverse auctions for construction.  You can view a recording of the hearing by clicking here.

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

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Defense Bill Includes AGC-Supported Small Business Provision
 

Today, the House passed a compromise National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY 2014 by a vote of 350-69.  The NDAA includes an AGC-supported small business provision, known as the Lower Tiers measure, which will benefit all construction contractors.  

The current law only allows prime contractors to count first-tier small business subcontractors towards the goals. The simple change in this AGC-supported provision 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.

The Senate is scheduled to vote on the bill next week.

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

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LABOR
AGC Opposes Government-Mandated PLAs by Army Corps and Navy
 

AGC sent two letters opposing the possible use of a project labor agreement (PLA) mandate: (1) one posted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Fort Worth District for Fort Hood VOLAR Barracks and Central Energy Plant Renovation project at Fort Hood, Texas; and (2) one posted by the Naval Engineering Facilities Command Washington for the construction of mechanical and electrical improvements for naval support activity in Bethesda, Maryland.

In addition to the two recent letters, AGC has sent over 80 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. To view AGC efforts opposing government mandated PLAs, click here.

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

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AGC EVENTS
Hotel Deadline for Financial Issues Forum Fast Approaching
Book by Dec. 18 to Receive Discounted Group Rate
 

Join AGC member company CFOs, CEOs and other senior accounting professionals for theWinter 2014 AGC Financial Issues Forum (formerly the AGC Tax and Fiscal Affairs Meeting). The conference will feature in-depth discussions with fellow contractors, congressional and administration representatives and AGC staff, and delve deep into the latest financial and accounting issues impacting the construction industry. Confirmed speakers include senior staff from FASB's parent organization, former staff director of Ways and Means, author of Showdown at Gucci Gulch, and tax accounting experts from around the country. In accordance with NASBA standards, attendees are eligible to earn up to 10 CPE credits.

Book your hotel room and register for the conference before it’s too late!

For more information, please contact Brian Lenihan at (202) 547-4733 or lenihanb@agc.org. Return to Top

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What Large and Small Businesses Should Know About the Updated SBA Mentor-Protégé Program
Complementary Webinar: December 19, 2013 l 2:00 - 3:30 p.m., EST
 

Register now for this complimentary webinar that could help you expand your federal construction market opportunities. Congress recently expanded the federal Small Business Administration Mentor-Protégé program to all federal agencies and requires such programs to include all small businesses as protégés. In short this means more opportunities for more small businesses and non-small businesses to joint venture on federal small business-set aside work. The webinar will cover what your construction contracting company—whether a small business or large—should do to prepare for and take advantage of this program.

Join Edward T. DeLisle, a construction and federal contracting law attorney with Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC, on this webinar to find out. Again, please register now to participate in this complementary webinar.

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

As predicted, Massachusetts State Sen. Katherine Clark (D) easily won the special election on Tuesday for the right to succeed Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA-5) in his vacated House seat. The senator held the congressional seat for 36+ years prior to his winning the Senate seat earlier this year.  

Ms. Clark took 66 percent of the vote compared to Republican Frank Addivinola's 32 percent. The total turnout was just over 60,000 individuals, low for a special general election, but not a surprising number considering the race was not competitive.

Ms. Clark was sworn into the House today. She will stand for reelection to a full term in the regular 2014 election. Next Tuesday, the AL-1 special election is scheduled and voters will almost assuredly elect Republican Bradley Byrne. Concluding these two special elections will mean the House vacancy total is down to only the late Rep. Bill Young's (R) FL-13 seat.  

For more information, please contact David Ashinoff at (202) 547-5013 or ahsinoffd@agc.org Return to Top

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