Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org December 11, 2014
Spacer
AGC Home Page
Email our Editor
Search Back Issues
Forward to a Friend
Subscribe
Printer Friendly
AGC Political Toolkit
RSS
Take Action!
On the Inside
APPROPRIATIONS
Funding Bill Passes House
TAX
Tax Extenders Awaits Final Passage in Senate
Tax Reform Bill Introduced
TRIA Action in Senate Expected
FEDERAL CONTRACTING
AGC Advances Legislative Priorities in Defense Bill
2014 ELECTIONS
No Surprises in Louisiana Run-off
APPROPRIATIONS
Funding Bill Passes House
Passage Expected in Senate
 

This afternoon, the House of Representatives passed a $1.1 trillion funding bill for fiscal year (FY) 2015 by a vote of 219-206.  The bill funds most of the government through September 2015.  The House will also takes steps to allow the Senate time to vote while avoiding a government shutdown at midnight tonight.  In addition to funding the government, the bill included many policy riders. 

Federal agency construction accounts will see a mixed bag of funding levels in 2015. Difficult fiscal times have resulted in deep cuts to some accounts—as is the case for military construction—while others remain flat when compared to FY 2014 levels. However, the bright spots remain with the Army Corps Civil Works and the General Services Administration construction programs.  The total funding for federal construction accounts tracked by AGC is over $106 billion for FY 2015.  This number represents a nearly $5 billion cut from FY 2014 levels.  A complete run down of the accounts can be found here.

Below is a summary of the FY 2015 funding levels for some of the larger federal construction accounts.

Transportation

The bill appropriated MAP-21 authorized levels of nearly $41 billion for the federal-aid highway program and nearly $9.5 billion for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) through formula grants.  FTA also saw an appropriation of $2.1 billion for the new starts program.  The Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program is funded at $3.35 billion which is the same level as FY 2014.  Amtrak ($1.1 billion) and TIGER grants ($500 million) saw funding cuts from FY 2014.

Water Infrastructure

State Revolving Funds (SRF) for Clean Water and Drinking Water got a bit of good news in the bill – no cuts.  The clean water SRF’s saw level funding from FY 2014 at $1.449 billion, as did drinking water SRF’s at $907 billion

Military Construction

Military construction accounts will be funded for FY 2015 generally along the lines of the president’s budget request, which called for steep cuts. Overall, military construction experiences a more than $3 billion (40 percent) cut in FY 2015 compared to FY 2014 levels. The Army will experience the deepest cut, as its construction funds are cut by over $575 million (52 percent) in this fiscal year. In addition, Congress continues to wind down the 1990 and 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) rounds’ funding, as Congress cuts a third of the funding—$136 million—for FY 2015. Additionally, funding is prohibited for any future BRAC rounds in the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2015.

Corps Civil Works

The U.S. Army Corps Civil Works Program funding will remain steady and strong in FY 2015 at over $5 billion, among the highest level of funding through the annual appropriations process. The construction account funding of $1.639 billion is an increase of $514.5 million above the president’s budget request, including $112 million in additional funding for Inland Waterways Trust Fund projects. The operations and maintenance account is funded at $2.908.5 billion, $308.5 million above the president’s budget request and $47.5 million above FY 2014, including at least $42 million in additional funds for inland navigation. No less than $1.1 billion is provided from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, a $100 million increase.

General Services Administration

While the General Services Administration’s construction program experiences a $255 million cut in FY 2015 compared to FY 2014, the $1.3 billion for construction accounts is still more than the funding received in fiscal years 2011, 2012 and 2013 combined. The construction and acquisition account remains steady in FY 2015 at over $500 million. The reduction in FY 2015 comes largely from the major repairs and alterations account.

Policy Riders

Of the potential environmental policy riders that were initially discussed as part of the appropriations deal, few made it over the finish line. AGC and the other members of the Waters Advocacy Coalition had been working to bring the provisions from the House-passed appropriations measures into the compromise bill. However, provisions blocking funding for the administration’s regulations on climate change and Clean Water Act jurisdiction, among the most controversial potential inclusions, ultimately failed to be included in the final legislation. What was included were provisions that would prohibit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from listing the greater sage-grouse as endangered or threatened and stop the service from working to implement protections for the Gunnison sage-grouse, which the agency listed as threatened last month. Industry groups and some western state governors have fought a potential listing for the sage-grouse, arguing that enacting federal protections for the birds' expansive territory would severely curtail construction and development in these areas, particularly for the oil and gas industries.

The funding bill also contains a provision that would suspend part of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) hours-of-service limits on truckers. The provision suspends the requirement that truck drivers must include two 1:00 to 5:00 a.m. off-duty periods during a consecutive 34-hour off-duty period before their weekly driving hours would restart. The provision also removes the once-per-week limit of the use of the restart. These two restrictions were part of the FMCSA hours-of-service rule that went into effect on July 1, 2013. The reset requirements have been a problem for trucking companies, including construction companies since they were imposed. Sen. Collins (R-Maine) included the language in the year-end funding bill because she believes that the requirement has the perverse effect of putting more trucks on the road during heavy traffic periods. AGC worked with a coalition of trucking interests in support of the Collins amendment.

The suspension is only in place through the end of FY 2015 and would have to be reinstated at that time unless the rules are changed. The provision calls for FMCSA to conduct a study of the operational, safety, health and fatigue aspects of the restart provisions in effect before and after July 1, 2013 and report to the House and Senate Committees. AGC will be providing information to the FMCSA concerning the impact of the reset rule on construction industry drivers.

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

Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
TAX
Tax Extenders Awaits Final Passage in Senate
 

The House passed H.R. 5771, the “Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014” (tax extenders) legislation last week by a vote of 378-46. The Senate is expected to attach the tax extenders on to the $1.1 trillion funding bill. The legislative tactic would curtail any potential “holds” by senators. This week, Senator Coburn (R-Okla.) threatened to put a hold on the stand-alone $41.6 billion tax extenders bill.

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

Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Tax Reform Bill Introduced
 

On the last official legislative day in the House, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) officially introduced H.R. 1, the “Tax Reform Act of 2014.”  This proposal formalizes the tax reform discussion draft released on Feb. 26, 2014, without modifications. “I hope that the formal introduction of this proposal in the House today will help spur further action on this critical issue in the 114th Congress,” Chairman Camp said in his statement.

In addition, today the Senate Finance Committee Republican staff released a report titled “Comprehensive Tax Reform for 2015 and Beyond,” which outlines the issues policymakers will have to confront in the effort to reform the nation’s tax code and aims to further educate and inform the debate. The report is less a prescriptive solution and more an analysis of the current code and outstanding challenges policymakers face in a comprehensive reform debate. 

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

Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
TRIA Action in Senate Expected
 

The Senate is expected to take up and approve S. 2244, the “Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act” (TRIA) which passed the House on Wednesday by a 417-7 vote. The TRIA bill would:

  • Extend the program for six-years;
  • Gradually increases from $100 million to $200 million the aggregate trigger (i.e. the minimum amount of damages from an attack before any federal assistance could become available) at a rate of $20 million a year beginning in 2016;
  • Raise the federal government's mandatory recoupment from $27.5 billion to $37.5 billion, increasing by $2 billion each year beginning Jan. 1, 2016;
  • Raise the private industry recoupment total from the current 133 percent of covered losses to 140 percent of covered losses; and
  • Increase the co-share between the private sector and federal government to 80-20 percent — up from the current 85-15 percent.

The bill does not include so-called bifurcation for treating nuclear, biological, chemical and radiological (NBCR) attacks differently from more conventional forms of attack – but authorizes a government study on the matter.

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

Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
FEDERAL CONTRACTING
AGC Advances Legislative Priorities in Defense Bill
Design-Build and Reverse Auction Reforms Pass House & Senate
 

On Dec. 12, the Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 (NDAA) bill, which includes AGC-supported provisions on design-build and reverse auction procurement reform impacting Department of Defense construction contractors. The House passed the same NDAA bill last week and it now moves to President Obama for his signature into law, which is expected.

AGC has pressed for design-build reform and the prohibition of reverse auctions for construction services throughout this Congress and will continue to press for their final enactment. While these provisions are a positive step forward, AGC will continue to advocate for further reform in the new Congress in 2015 that address the entire federal government.

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

Share: LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
2014 ELECTIONS
No Surprises in Louisiana Run-off
 

The Louisiana run-offs were held Saturday and, as expected, three-term Senator Mary Landrieu (D) lost a landslide re-election bid. With just under 1.3 million people participating, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R) claimed a 56-44 percent victory margin.

Rep. Cassidy's victory in the Senate race means that the Republicans gained nine seats in the 2014 election cycle and gives them a 56-44 majority in the new 114th Congress. Five Democratic incumbents, including Sen. Landrieu, were defeated.

Louisiana-5

Dr. Ralph Abraham (R) easily defeated Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo (D) to win in his first run for public office. Mr. Abraham won 64-36 percent over Mr. Mayo, after placing second in the primary when scoring 23 percent to his opponent's original 28 percent. But, the combined Republican vote was 70.2 percent in November, leaving little doubt that Mayo would be overwhelmed in the run-off election.

Louisiana-6

The last run-off occurred in Louisiana's 6th Congressional District, anchored in the Baton Rouge metropolitan area. The seat was opened because of Rep. Bill Cassidy's run for the Senate.

In the November jungle primary, former Gov. Edwin Edwards (D) placed first with 30 percent of the vote, but former Jindal Administration official Garret Graves (R) easily won the seat in the runoff. The final totals were 62-38 percent in what marks the 87 year-old Edwards' final political run.

During his concession speech, Edwards said he will not run for office again. He served four terms in Congress and was elected four separate times as Governor. Convicted of public corruption, Edwards was in federal prison for eight years. He said he ran for Congress this year because 'Louisiana election law does not allow convicted felons to run for state office'.

The pair of Republican victories means the GOP will control a minimum of 246 seats in the House for the 114th Congress. If Arizona's Martha McSally (R) survives the recount and her 161-vote victory over Rep. Ron Barber (D) is confirmed, the Republicans will have a 247-188 majority, their largest since the 1928 election.

For more information, please contact David Ashinoff at (202) 547-5013 or ashinoffd@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.