Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org December 8, 2016
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On the Inside
APPROPRIATIONS
Congress Poised to Pass Continuing Resolution that Prohibits New Starts for Construction Projects
WATER RESOURCES
Water Resources and Infrastructure Bill Moves Forward
FEDERAL CONTRACTING
House and Senate Pass Defense Bill
AGC Opposes Two Army Corps of Engineers PLA Inquiries
HEALTHCARE
Congress Passes Legislation Reinstating Health Reimbursement Accounts
TAX/ACCOUNTING
Register for the Winter Financial Issues Committee
AGC SURVEY
AGC and Sage Surveying Members for Annual Outlook
APPROPRIATIONS
Congress Poised to Pass Continuing Resolution that Prohibits New Starts for Construction Projects
AGC Fights for Increased Funding for Infrastructure
 

With a Dec. 9 deadline to avert a partial government shutdown looming, the House of Representatives passed yet another temporary funding bill that will keep the government funded at fiscal year 2016 levels through April 28, 2017.  However, the CR prohibits federal agencies from moving forward on any new projects and doesn’t include the nearly $1 billion increase for federal highway and transit investments provided by the FAST Act.  In response to the absence of the FAST Act increase, AGC and the Transportation Construction Coalition sent a letter expressing our disappointment.

The CR isn’t all bad news for construction.  In response to recent flooding throughout the country, the CR provides $4.1 billion in new supplemental appropriations for flood-related activities, including over $1 billion for the Federal Highway Administration and the Army Corps of Engineers water resources programs, respectively. 

The bill now heads to the Senate where Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Sherrod Brown (Ohio) are threatening to hold up the bill – which would lead to a government shutdown this weekend – unless it includes a longer extension of benefits for coal miners.   Due to the objection of the Senators, it is unclear when the Senate will take final action on the bill. 

AGC will work to ensure that the new Congress and Administration end the cycle of not passing annual appropriations bills and instead relying on CRs.  In particular, we will push for the full funding for federal highway and transit programs promised by the FAST Act.

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

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WATER RESOURCES
Water Resources and Infrastructure Bill Moves Forward
 

Today, the House of Representatives passed the AGC-supported, Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act by a vote of 360 - 61.  The WIIN Act is a combination of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016 – authorizing navigation and flood control programs of the Army Corps of Engineers – and the Water and Waste Water Act of 2016, which provides additional resources for the Environmental Protection Agency to improve drinking water infrastructure and legislation to provide relief for the California drought.

The bill now moves to the Senate where concerns about a number of provision remain. Several Senators have expressed opposition to provisions providing drought relief for California and mandating Buy America requirements on iron and steel products for fiscal year 2017 only, instead of making the requirements permanent.  AGC will continue to push the Senate the take up and pass the WINN Act before they adjourn the 114th Congress.

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

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FEDERAL CONTRACTING
House and Senate Pass Defense Bill
AGC Procurement Priorities Close to Finish Line
 

Last week, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly (373-34) passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (NDAA). Today, the Senate followed suit (92-7). The NDAA contains a host of AGC-backed federal construction procurement provisions important to construction contractors. The $618.7 billion bill is expected to be signed into law by the president before the year’s end.

Among the procurement wins for AGC and its members in the final legislation are:

  • A provision allowing construction contractors to protest non-Department of Defense (DOD) agency task order contracts above $25 million before the General Accountability Office. The ability to protest such civilian agency task orders had expired in September;
  • Language enabling congressional oversight of DOD use of one-step design-build solicitations and inclusion of more than five teams on two-step design-build short lists; and
  • The exclusion of several harmful provisions, including a requirement for contractors to pay for GAO protests, a ban on DOD task order protests where an ombudsman is appointed, and a penalty disincentivizing DOD use of cost-type contracts.

The Defense Bill also includes many small business oriented-provisions. It requires the Small Business Administration (SBA) to improve its reporting requirements, requiring SBA to better track small business that are no longer small and to clarify prime contracting goals. Additionally, the report establishes a first-tier, small business subcontractor past performance pilot program.

Of note, the Defense Bill does not include previous House and Senate provisions that would have put limitations on the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces (Blacklisting) Executive Order. Given the election results, AGC has advocated for a more enduring and comprehensive approach to repealing that order through the Congressional Review Act (CRA).  Under the CRA, Congress can repeal the executive order’s implementing rules in their entirety and make it very difficult for a future president to undertake a similar regulatory initiative.

AGC will continue to monitor the NDAA as it heads to the president’s desk to be signed into law, and will advocate for further reforms in the new Congress.

For more information, contact Jordan Howard at Jordan.Howard@agc.org or (703) 837-5368. Return to Top

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AGC Opposes Two Army Corps of Engineers PLA Inquiries
 

AGC sent letters opposing the possible use of a project labor agreement (PLA) mandate posted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for construction projects at the F-35A Hangar/Propulsion MX/Dispatch at Eielson AFB Alaska and design build and design bid build Construction Services for work within the state of Hawaii.

AGC neither supports nor opposes contractors’ voluntary use of PLAs on government projects, but strongly opposes any government mandate for contractors’ use of PLAs. AGC is committed to free and open competition for publicly funded work, and as such, believes the lawful labor relations policies and practices of private construction contractors should not be a factor in a government agency’s selection process.

To view AGC efforts opposing government mandated PLAs, click here.

For more information, contact Jordan Howard at jordan.howard@agc.org or (703) 837-5368. Return to Top

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HEALTHCARE
Congress Passes Legislation Reinstating Health Reimbursement Accounts
 

During one of the last acts of the 114th Congress, the House and Senate passed a bill that allows small businesses with fewer than 50 employees to offer Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) to employees without facing fines by the IRS.  These HRAs can be used by employees for the payment of premiums or qualified medical expenses associated with insurance coverage. AGC joined a multi-industry letter in support of the legislation and President Obama is expected to sign the law.

For more information, contact Jim Young at youngj@agc.org or (202) 547-0133. Return to Top

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TAX/ACCOUNTING
Register for the Winter Financial Issues Committee
Register Now and Hotel Deadline is Dec. 26
 

Timely guidance, accurate advice on reporting requirements and common practices are essential items for any financial professional’s toolbox. We invite you to join your peers at the Winter 2017 AGC Financial Issues Committee, January 10-11, 2017 at Trump National Doral in Miami, FL. The two-day meeting is filled with interactive sessions, covering the latest industry issues and their financial implications.

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

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AGC SURVEY
AGC and Sage Surveying Members for Annual Outlook
Help Us Generate a Comprehensive Outlook for 2017 by Taking the Survey Today and Enter to Win a Yeti Cooler
 

Each year around this time, AGC asks you – our members – to predict what next year will be like for your business.  AGC has partnered with Sage to prepare questions that focus on expectations for market performance, hiring, labor market conditions, etc. And because we know your time is valuable and your input is crucial, everyone that completes a survey will now have the opportunity to enter to win a brand new Yeti cooler or a $100 Amazon gift card. Return to Top

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