Senate EPW Committee Approves AGC-Backed Six Year Transportation Reauthorization Bill
Environment and Public Works Committee approved the AGC-supported DRIVE Act, a
six-year bill with increased funding recommendations and several new program
initiatives. The Committee has jurisdiction over the highway portion of the
legislation and now must await action by the Finance Committee on the revenue
portion, the Banking Committee on the transit segments, and the Commerce
Committee on safety.
was an important first step in the process. AGC CEO Stephen Sandherr participated
in a press conference with the bill’s
primary sponsors, Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and ranking member
Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), where Sandherr noted that getting a long-term bill is
vital and failure to act will have real impact on commuters’ wallets and the economy’s performance.
Here are some of
the key highlights of the act:
- Funding increase above inflation: $278
billion in Highway Trust Fund contract authority over six fiscal years (FY
2016-2021). This is about a 3 percent increase over current funding levels plus
- New freight program: Directs DOT to
establish a national highway freight network to consist of the primary highway
freight system, critical rural and urban freight corridors and any part of the
Interstate system not designated as part of the primary highway freight system.
Approximately $2 billion per year is distributed to states for projects that
encourage efficient freight mobility (i.e. access to energy production,
agriculture, mining, intermodal facilities and ports).
- Assistance for Major Projects (AMP) Program:
Provides between $300 and $450 million per year in contract authority for a new
grant to give extra federal funding to critical high-cost projects that are
difficult to complete with existing funds. The program is similar to the TIGER
grant program that the Transportation Department has been operating the past
several years. The Federal Highway Administration (not the Department) is the
lead agency for awarding these grants through a competitive national
solicitation process. The bill gives specific criteria for selecting projects.
- Tolling: Allows unlimited tolling of new
Interstate lane construction and strikes existing limitations on HOV conversion
to HOT lanes. Keeps the interstate toll pilot program limited to three states,
but imposes a "use-it-or-lose-it" provision that could shift
authorization for tolling from one state to another if states do not adopt
tolling expeditiously. Sets up a marketplace where states can buy and sell toll
- Continues Reforms and Fine Tunes Project
Delivery Process: Additional environmental streamlining provisions are
added to address the EIS process. It directs DOT to create a website review
process to increase transparency and create a clearinghouse of best practices.
The act also improves collaboration between federal agencies and ensures that
agencies do not unnecessarily delay the process.
bridge safety: Dedicates additional funds to bridge projects and
incentivizes states to take a risk-based asset management approach. Allows
states to bundle several bridges into one package for environmental review and
construction. Removes barriers to critical bridge projects due to nesting
information, please contact Brian Deery at email@example.com
or (703) 837-5319.
Return to Top
Congressional Committees Hold Hearings on Transportation Funding Challenges
Repatriation and Transportation Financing are the Focus
This week, two
congressional committees held hearings exploring the use of repatriation to
fill the Highway Trust Fund revenue gap and additional financing for
transportation infrastructure, respectively.
Congress must identify sources of revenue to fill the gap and pass a
long-term transportation bill before the end of July, when the current
extension expires, in order to keep highway & bridge construction projects
running. AGC continues to push for a permanent fix for the Highway Trust Fund
and supports innovative financing options that would increase the use of
public-private partnerships, among other measures, to address our nation’s transportation infrastructure
The House Ways
& Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures held a hearing examining
options for using revenue from repatriated foreign earnings from U.S. based
corporations as a way to fill the $90 billion dollars needed to maintain
Highway Trust Fund spending at current levels. The committee is tasked with
identifying a revenue source that will allow for a long-term transportation
reauthorization bill to move through the House of Representatives. They have
yet to coalesce around a plan – although Chairman Paul Ryan has clearly stated
that an increase in the gas tax is off the table – and are looking at various
options, including repatriation.
repatriation as a way to pay for the next transportation bill has been widely
discussed since Former Ways & Means Chairman Dave Camp included it in his
2014 tax overhaul draft and the Obama Administration proposed using it to pay
for their reauthorization – the GROW Act.
Both the Camp plan and the administration’s proposal would set a mandatory (deemed) repatriation tax while a
proposal from Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) would
allow for a voluntary repatriation of foreign earnings. AGC’s white
paper explains the difference between mandatory and voluntary
While the House
seems to be very interested in using repatriation as a way to patch the Highway
Trust Fund, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) remains
opposed to the idea. In fact, Hatch held
a hearing to examine financing alternatives and additions to federal and local
infrastructure financing. Finance Committee members heard from witnesses
including former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and the Executive Director of
the Colorado Department of Transportation about ways states can partner with
the private sector to provide innovative financing options to address their
transportation infrastructure needs.
information, please contact Sean O’Neill at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 547-8892.
Return to Top
Can a Former Rising Star Shine Bright Again?
The presidential field grew by one this week, bringing
the total number of announced candidates to 17 – four Democrats and 13
Republicans. On Wednesday, two-term Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal announced
his intent to become the GOP presidential nominee.
At one time, Mr. Jindal was seen as a rising star in the
Republican Party, and was on a path to become one of his party’s top
presidential contenders. His fall from the national limelight began
followings his less-than-stellar delivery of the 2009 Republican State of the
Union response. Coupled with a series of gubernatorial missteps, Mr.
Jindal now finds himself as one of the nation’s least popular
governors. Currently, his approval rating stands at 27 percent as he faces
a $1.6 billion deficit in the state budget.
This one-time GOP star barely registers in recent
national polling. The latest RealClearPolitics Average pegs his support
at 0.8 percent.
Mr. Jindal began his political and public policy career
at an early age. At 24, Mr. Jindal was appointed the secretary of the
state’s Department of Health and Hospitals. While overseeing an agency
representing 40 percent of the state’s budget, he took the state’s Medicaid
program from a $400 million deficit to a $220 million surplus. Four years
later, he was appointed president of the University of Louisiana. At 30,
Mr. Jindal was nominated by President George W. Bush to be Assistant Secretary
of Health and Human Services for Planning and Evaluation. After serving
in this role for two years, he returned home to Louisiana to run for
governor. He lost the 2003 gubernatorial election, but was elected the
following year to the U.S. House, where he served for two terms. In 2007,
Mr. Jindal was successful in his second bid to become governor.
Still considering a bid are Vice President Joe Biden (D),
who will decide by August 1; Governor Chris Christie (R-N.J.); Governor
John Kasich (R-Ohio); Governor Scott Walker (R-Wis.), who is expected to
announce in July; and former U.S. Senator Jim Webb (D-Va.).
For more information, please contact David Ashinoff email@example.com
or (202) 547-5013.
Return to Top
Registration Open for First Ever AGC Utility Infrastructure Conference at ICUEE
Register by July 15, 2015 and Save $75!
AGC will be
hosting its first ever Utility Infrastructure Conference, Sept.
29–Oct. 1 in Louisville, Kentucky. Join other contractors, owners and key
industry constituents involved in every aspect of utility infrastructure
construction for high-quality education sessions, the premier utility
construction equipment expo, and networking opportunities.
This year’s conference will be co-located
with the International
Construction and Utility Equipment Exposition (ICUEE), which is the
largest industry event focused exclusively on the utility
infrastructure market, with over 17,000 industry professionals attending ICUEE
2013. All conference session will take place inside the Kentucky Exposition
Center in Louisville, Kentucky.
focus on the challenges Kokosing Industrial Inc. faced while constructing the
Columbus, OH HRT facility and how they overcame those challenges, the
challenges and opportunities in managing a multi-generational workforce, and
how OSHA’s new Confined Space
Entry final rule will impact utility construction contractors. AGC will also
host a legislative & regulatory update on the Expo Demo Stage, and will
partner with the Common Ground Alliance for an Underground Damage Prevention
to take advantage of the early bird rates!
information, please contact Scott Berry at (703) 837-5321 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Return to Top
Please Tell Us If You Are Having a Hard Time Finding Qualified Workers
Is Your Construction Company Facing Worker Shortages?
We continue to hear from many of you that
the labor market has become tighter since AGC of America last surveyed its
members about the extent of workforce shortages. While it is clear that
worker shortages are a growing concern, and in some cases a significant
problem, for many contractors, we feel it is important to continue our efforts
to better quantify where these shortages are taking place, how severe they are,
and what steps firms are taking to both cope with tight labor markets and
improve the supply of new, qualified workers. That is why we are asking you to
take a few minutes to complete the following workforce survey that we prepared.
Your responses will help us better define
the problem to elected and appointed officials, the media, educators and your
peers within the business community. The more people understand the
scope, and consequences, of a tight construction labor market, the more likely
they are to act on the measures we identify in our Workforce
Development Plan that
are designed to make it easier for school systems, local associations and
private firms to establish career and technical education and training
For more information, please contact Nahee
Rosso at email@example.com or
Return to Top