Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org May 14, 2015
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On the Inside
ENVIRONMENT
House Passes AGC-Supported Bill Sending Waters of the US Rule Back to the Drawing Board
TRANSPORTATION
No Clear Path Forward for Highway Funds as Deadline Approaches
ENVIRONMENT
House Passes AGC-Supported Bill Sending Waters of the US Rule Back to the Drawing Board
Fight over Water Rule Moves to the Senate
 

The House approved a measure to rescind the administration’s controversial proposed rule redefining “Waters of the U.S.” By a vote of 261-155, the House passed H.R. 1732, which would require EPA and the Corps to withdraw the regulatory proposal within 30 days and then set up a consultation process with state and local stakeholders as well as industry and small businesses in an effort to craft a new, better rule.

The overall vote count roughly mirrors that of a similar measure last year, which was approved 262-152. Fewer Democrats crossed the aisle this time, with only 25 who voted in support of the bill as opposed to 35 last year, but there are also fewer Democrats in the House following last November's elections and stiffer opposition from Democratic leadership on the heels of a veto threat by the administration.

The fight over the water rule now moves to the Senate, where Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) recently introduced S. 1140, which would identify criteria that any new Clean Water Act rule would have to meet, with the effect of forcing the Obama administration back to the drawing board to rewrite the current rule so it complies with the new criteria.

For more information, please contact Scott Berry at (703) 837-5321 or berrys@agc.org Return to Top

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TRANSPORTATION
No Clear Path Forward for Highway Funds as Deadline Approaches
Senate Committee Announces Markup
 

As the May 31 deadline to reauthorize highway and transit programs approaches, there is still no clear path forward to address the need for a long-term bill. House and Senate leadership have indicated that an authorization extension is being considered but there is no agreement on its length. To go beyond July 31 will require additional revenue for the Highway Trust Fund. The Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees are working on an $11 billion short-term patch for highway and mass transit programs through the end of the year.  Additionally, there appears to be some support for simply extending the Highway Trust Fund expenditure authority beyond May 31.  Today, Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) introduced a two-month extension that requires no additional money for the Highway Trust Fund.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx wrote to state DOT directors this week warning that, “Unless Congress acts prior to this date, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) will be unable to make new obligations of Federal-aid funds for your department's highway projects. Furthermore, unlike last summer's cash shortfall when states faced the prospect of delayed payments, under a lapse in authorization, reimbursements on all projects will be halted completely, not simply delayed."

Meanwhile, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and ranking member Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said in a May 13 statement that the committee will mark up a six-year surface transportation reauthorization bill in June. Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) recently told reporters that his committee had given itself a six-month timeline to identify a long-term funding mechanism that will allow the Highway Trust Fund to support a long-term authorization. Additionally, Inhofe and Boxer said it would be “unacceptable” for Congress to not take up a reauthorization measure before May 31 and said lawmakers “owe it to our nation's economy to send a strong signal that Congress is going to maintain the backbone of America's commerce and national security.” The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has not announced any dates for moving its version of the bill.

The AGC Co-Chaired Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) has implemented a media campaign calling for a Highway Trust Fund fix and passage of a fully-funded long-term surface transportation bill. AGC also continues to promote the Drive Better Roads website in a media event at the Liberty Bridge in Pittsburgh, PA with former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell and local and state transportation officials.

AGC members have been active on through Hardhats for Highways, sending email messages to their Congressional delegations calling for action. Please continue your efforts and visit the website to send a message to your senators and representative on the need to fix the Highway Trust Fund. 

For more information, please contact Brian Deery at deeryb@agc.org or (703) 837-5376. Return to Top

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