Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org September 24, 2015
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On the Inside
GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN
Congressional Conflicts and the Pope’s Visit Continue to Stall Government Funding Bill
APPROPRIATIONS
Senate Trying to Move First on Stopgap Funding Bill
TRANSPORTATION
Get Congress to Pass a Transportation Bill Now
FEDERAL CONTRACTING
House Begins Debate on Streamlining Bill
2016 ELECTIONS
Former Front-Runner Folds
GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN
Congressional Conflicts and the Pope’s Visit Continue to Stall Government Funding Bill
 

                                            

We are just one week away from a possible government shutdown. Both Republicans and Democrats say they want to avoid a shutdown; however, there has been little progress in either the House or Senate on moving a continuing resolution to keep the government open past Sept. 30. Instead, all eyes were on the Pope during his visit this week.

The House has yet to start the process officially.  Today, the Senate failed to pass a bill that would fund the government but eliminated funding for Planned Parenthood.  AGC’s lobbyists have estimated the probability of a government shutdown at 50.25 percent this week, down slightly from last week’s 54 percent estimate.  There is ample reason to think that there will not be a shutdown; in fact one of our lobbyists puts the probability at 0 percent. The rest of us see less reason for optimism. For federal contractors, we have provided some guidance on how to prepare for the potential of a government shutdown, which can be found here.

For more information, please contact Jeff Shoaf at shoafj@agc.org or (202) 547-3350. Return to Top

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APPROPRIATIONS
Senate Trying to Move First on Stopgap Funding Bill
AGC Sends Letter Urging Congress to Avoid Shutdown
 

This week, the Senate released a continuing resolution (CR) that would fund most federal government operations from Oct. 1 through Dec. 11.  The CR is necessary because yet again, Congress has failed to pass any of the fiscal year 2016 appropriations bills ahead of the Sept. 30 deadline.  The bill, which also included language to defund Planned Parenthood, failed on a procedural vote requiring 60 votes (57-42) this afternoon.

Now that the Senate has failed in their attempt to pass a bill to defund Planned Parenthood, they will move to pass a “clean” CR that doesn’t defund Planned Parenthood and send it to the House early next week unless the House moves first.  House Republicans plan to meet tomorrow morning to discuss their strategy in moving forward on a CR.

As the politics of the CR play out in Congress, AGC sent a letter urging them to finish work on their fiscal year 2016 appropriations bills and avoid a government shutdown.  The Senate funding bill would provide regular discretionary funding at an annualized rate of $1.017 trillion.  That level is consistent with the discretionary spending limits for defense and non-defense categories enacted under the Budget Control Act. 

Issues of particular concern to the construction industry include: the prohibition of federal agencies and contractors from undertaking new construction project starts; a 6-month extension of the authorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (including $1.61 billion for the Airport Improvement Program); $625 million to complete construction of the Veterans Affairs medical center in Denver, CO; and continues to provide MAP-21 funding levels for federal highway and transit programs.

AGC will continue to urge Congress to avoid a government shutdown and return the appropriations process to regular order that prioritizes federal construction investments.

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

TRANSPORTATION
Get Congress to Pass a Transportation Bill Now
Contact your Reps – Visit Hardhats for Highways
 

Another week has passed without any progress for the House’s plan for passing a long-term highway & transit bill prior to the expiration of the current extension on Oct. 29.  Please continue to contact your representative and urge them to pass a transportation bill now to avoid any further short-term extensions. Please visit Hardhats for Highways to deliver that message.  All members of the House of Representatives need to hear from their constituents that any further extensions are unacceptable.

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

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FEDERAL CONTRACTING
House Begins Debate on Streamlining Bill
House Begins Debate on Streamlining Bill
 

The House is set to consider The Responsibility and Professionally Invigorating Development (RAPID) Act, sponsored by Representative Tom Marino (R-Pa.), which would streamline the approval process for federally-funded and federally-permitted infrastructure, energy and other construction projects and deliver faster approvals.  The AGC-supported bill builds on the successful environmental streamlining provisions in MAP-21.

The RAPID Act seeks  to improve the permitting process by requiring greater coordination among multiple federal agencies involved in environmental reviews; providing concurrent reviews, rather than serial reviews;  allowing state-level environmental reviews to be used in certain instances;  imposing reasonable fixed deadlines for completion of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) or an Environmental Assessment (EA); reducing the statute of limitations to challenge a final EIS or EA from six years to 180 days; and establishing a reasonable process for determining the scope of project alternatives.

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

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2016 ELECTIONS
Former Front-Runner Folds
 

The rise and fall of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker ultimately proved meteoric in both directions.  After rising to the top of the Republican presidential heap earlier in the year, the nominal former front-runner departed the presidential race after being in it for just 70 days.

His decline, largely at the hands of current GOP front-runner Donald Trump, was as far and fast as his original ascension.  All recent polls positioned him dropping to three percent or below, about one-sixth the size of his original support base, but the latest CNN/ORC survey portended rock bottom, showing that Mr. Walker failed to even record a percentage point.
 
How does Walker leaving the race affect the remaining candidates?  If he had his way, others trailing in the polls would follow his example and exit the contest. A smaller candidate pool would allow those with the true ability to overtake Mr. Trump to unify the conservative movement. 
 
Walker’s missteps were strategic and administrative in nature.  Waiting too long to officially enter the race, not properly educating himself on domestic and foreign policy, failing to stand out at the debates and spending too much money on staff overhead proved to be his downfall even though he uttered only minor public gaffes.
 
Since his previous support had already been dispersed to Mr. Trump and the remainder of the Republican candidate field, Walker exiting the race will not greatly affect the current standings. 

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

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