House T&I Committee Approves 6 Year Transportation Bill
Transportation & Infrastructure Committee completed bipartisan action today
on H.R. 3763, the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act (STRRA)
of 2015, and, with unanimous consent of the committee, cleared the way for the
legislation to be considered by the full House. The committee held a marathon
markup taking up over 160 amendments. An omnibus “manager’s amendment,” which
included numerous amendments that received bipartisan support, was approved by
the committee. Most of the other amendments were introduced, discussed and then
withdrawn. A handful of amendments were voted on but few were approved.
Amendments covered a variety of policy issues in the legislation from trucking
rules to program administration.
co-chaired Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) sent a letter to the
committee, prior to the markup, urging adoption of the six year measure but
pointing out that the authorized amounts, which maintain current funding
levels, do not keep pace with increasing material costs or general inflation.
AGC separately wrote a letter suggesting that the House work to provide funding
at least at the Senate’s DRIVE Act levels. While there was some discussion
during the markup about the need for increased revenue for the program, funding
levels were not addressed. Revenue issues are not within the jurisdiction of
the T&I Committee and must be address in the Ways and Means Committee.
opposed a provision in a newly created grant program for freight improvement
projects that allows up to $500 million in the program to be used for rail
freight projects. The letters pointed out that with limited resources available
to meet existing highway needs, increasing the types of projects that are
eligible for Highway Trust Fund dollars should not be approved. While an
amendment was offered during the committee markup to increase that level to
$1.4 billion was not adopted, the freight rail eligibility remained in place.
provision was included in the manager’s amendment expressing the “sense of the
Congress” that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) complete action on
regulations implementing a provision included in MAP-21 that would enhance
worker protections by increasing use of positive barrier in highway work
zones. A second AGC initiated amendment to expand the mileage limit
allowing construction drivers to reset their hours of service after a 24 hour
break was withdrawn without a vote.
H.R. 3763 could
be considered by the House as early as next week.
For more information, contact Sean O’Neill firstname.lastname@example.org
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President Obama Vetoes Defense Bill
Bill included AGC-Backed Procurement Reforms
president today vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year
2016 (NDAA bill), a bill that helps fund the Department of Defense (DOD) and
helps pay for the needs of our nation’s soldiers. This is only President
Obama’s fifth veto of his seven-year tenure in office, and first time he has
vetoed an NDAA bill, despite threatening to do so every year. As previously
reported, the now vetoed NDAA bill included several
AGC-backed federal procurement reform provisions that would help prevent
individual surety fraud, allow joint ventures to submit individual businesses’
relevant past performance evaluations as part of their proposals—not merely the
relevant past performance of the joint venture itself—and fix a recent court
decision that would have required small business construction contractors to
purchase all their materials and supplies from other small businesses.
president vetoed the bill, basically, because it increases defense spending
through a budget maneuver without also increasing domestic spending.
Specifically, the president vetoed the NDAA bill because it increases spending
in the overseas contingency operations (OCO) account—which funds overseas
military operations—to help fund DOD as a means to avoid: (1) exceeding the
spending caps enacted in the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA); and (2) mandatory
budget cuts—called sequestration—as OCO funds are not subject to the spending
caps established in the BCA and are, therefore, not subject to sequestration
cuts. This action represents a major stand against the rigid defense and
non-defense spending caps set in the BCA and the sequestration mechanism—to
which the president and many in Congress have called for an end. However,
neither the president nor members of either party in Congress have put forth a
credible, reasonable, and passable legislative solution to completely end the
BCA spending caps and sequestration in four years.
veto, the NDAA bill moves back to Congress for an override vote. To override
the president’s veto, at least two-thirds of lawmakers in each the House (290
Representatives) and the Senate (67 Senators) would have to vote against the
president to enact the bill into law. Although the bill passed Congress with
large bipartisan majorities—270-156 in the House and 70-27 in the Senate—the
House would need an additional 20 votes to override the veto.
override vote fails, the AGC-backed provisions may remain in any compromise
NDAA bill passed by Congress and signed by the president, as those provisions
are not at the core of the reasons for the president’s veto. However, the
situation remains fluid and AGC will continue to work with members of the House
and Senate to help ensure that these construction procurement improvements
more information, please contact Jimmy Christianson at 703-837-5325 or email@example.com.
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Candidates & Dates Confirmed for Republican Leadership Race
returning from the congressional recess this week, the Republican members in
the House of Representatives continued to gather their thoughts and rally
behind a potential “unity candidate” for Speaker of the House following Rep.
John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) announced resignation. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) met
with various Republican caucuses to discuss conditions under which he would be
willing to serve as Speaker. These conditions include:
from all Republican caucuses
House rules to make it harder to oust a Speaker via “motions to vacate the
travel schedule to spend more time with family, with caveat to fundraise
via various media
from all groups and for his colleagues to accept the conditions by Friday,
Ryan received a “super majority” of member support but did not meet a threshold
for an all-out endorsement, despite meeting with the Freedom Caucus who has
already voiced support for Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.). By the same evening,
Rep. Ryan said he would proceed with a formal campaign for Speaker. The
internal Republican election for speaker will be conducted on October 28, and
the floor election will be held October 29. Meanwhile, the vacancy created by
Rep. Ryan on the Ways and Means Committee will be filled following his election
to the Speakership. Reps. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio) have
been privately gearing up for a race to claim the Ways and Means gavel.
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Vice President Biden Rules out Third Presidential Run
Despite media reports predicting that Vice President Joe
Biden would enter the presidential race early in the week, yesterday he
officially announced that he will not, saying his “window of opportunity had
As we had stated here earlier, Mr. Biden had three obstacles to overcome, none
of which appeared easy to traverse. First, to which he referred in his Rose
Garden announcement, the time was fast elapsing when he could reasonably develop
a campaign from the ground up, in terms of building both a fundraising and
grassroots political organization.
Because of his longstanding career in national politics, Biden would not have
been starting a national campaign at political ground zero, but would have been
uncomfortably close. The vice president already realized that he was likely
past the point of no return to compete in Iowa and New Hampshire, thus leaving
South Carolina as the state where he could make his first stand against former Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT). This would have made
generating any serious momentum very difficult when already two highly
publicized voting events would be completed before a Biden campaign even
Second, constructing an organization that could raise millions of dollars
quickly in $2,700 maximum increments during such a short time frame would also
have been an arduous task regardless of his current political position. Yes,
Super PACs would have quickly formed to support him that could have bundled
large sums in short order, but he would still need a sizable amount of funding
to directly control (candidates and their staffs can have no say in how Super
PAC money is spent).
Third, his polling standing wasn’t particularly strong, especially for a
sitting vice president. In most national polls Mr. Biden was third, usually
around the 20% mark. It would be reasonable to assume that his numbers would
improve when he actually became a candidate, but beginning so far behind
front-runner Clinton would make winning delegate votes in primaries and
caucuses a very tall political order. Convincing party leaders and elected
officials, who would become Democratic Super Delegates, was an additional
problem. Most of this group is concerned only with finding a candidate who can
win the general election, suggesting that most would not immediately abandon
early commitments to Ms. Clinton.
With Mr. Biden jettisoning the presidential race, October 21 may now be looked
upon as the day Ms. Clinton unofficially won the Democratic nomination. With Jim
Webb withdrawing from the democratic primary, and remaining minor candidates
Martin O’Malley and Lincoln Chafee being non-factors, a head-to-head battle
with Bernie Sanders should easily go Clinton’s way.
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