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FHWA Delays Greenhouse Gas Measures

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has delayed implementation of a rule requiring states to develop performance measurements for tracking Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions for federal-aid highway projects. The delay was in response to a memorandum issued by President Trump on the first day of his administration freezing pending regulations until they can be reviewed. The freeze gives agencies time to determine if pending rules should be issued as proposed or if they should be rewritten or withdrawn entirely. The GHG rule was issued by the Obama Administration in its final days in response to a Congressional directive in MAP-21 to develop metrics to determine the effectiveness of federal investment in the performance of freight movement, congestion relief and the air quality program.
AGC questioned FHWA’s authority to issue the rule at the time and has since written to new Transportation Secretary Chao suggesting that it be rescinded, as AGC believes that the regulation goes beyond MAP-21 requirements. Not only did MAP-21 specify what performance standards were to be adopted, it also specifically did not include GHG emissions and furthermore told U.S. DOT to not go beyond the performance measurements articulated in the law.
For more information, contact Brian Deery at [email protected] or (703) 837-5319.

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FMCSA Delays Truck Driver Training Requirement

Also in response to the Trump Administration’s regulatory freeze memo, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced postponement of the entry-level driver training final rule that was to go into effect on February 6. The effective date of the rule is being delayed until March 21. However, the rule will not be enforced for three years after it becomes effective. FMCSA said the delay is consistent with the memorandum’s directive to postpone for 60 days to allow time for a thorough review of certain regulations.
The rule established comprehensive national minimum training standards for entry-level commercial truck operators seeking to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). The rule’s standards include mandatory training for the safe operation of commercial motor vehicles and the establishment of minimum qualifications for entities and individuals who provide entry-level driver training. AGC submitted comments on the rule when it was proposed and suggested that a requirement that entry level drivers must have 30 hours of behind-the-wheel driving before they could become eligible for a CDL was excessive. FMCSA accepted AGC’s comment and dropped the 30 hour behind-the-wheel requirement.
For more information, contact Brian Deery at [email protected] or (703) 837-5319.

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Treasury Secretary Mnuchin Confirmed

On Monday, the Senate confirmed Steven Mnuchin as the 77th Secretary of the Treasury by a 53-47 vote (one Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin voted in favor). Later in the day, Vice President Pence swore Mnuchin into office during a ceremony presided over by President Trump in the Oval Office. Over the coming weeks, the Secretary will round out his team with advisors and await the Senate to approve top slots that require confirmation votes including his deputy secretary, undersecretaries for domestic finance and international affairs, as well as assistant secretaries of legislative affairs and tax policy, the latter being a key role in formulating and advancing the administration’s tax plan – the details of which are to be released in the coming weeks.
For more information, contact Brian Lenihan at [email protected] or (202) 547-4733.

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Senate Committee Talks Infrastructure Needs

Governors Sends List of Projects to White House
Although there is still no word out of the White House on their infrastructure investment plan, infrastructure continued to make news in the nation’s capital this week. The Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee held their first hearing, the National Governors Association (NGA) is sending a list of 428 infrastructure projects to the White House, and Ranking Democrat on the House Transportation Committee Peter Defazio is sending a letter to President Trump recommending three immediate actions that could be taken to provide funding for surface transportation, waterways, and airport construction projects. AGC will continue working with Congress and the administration to shape a plan that meets the investment needs for our nation’s infrastructure.
The Senate committee hearing on “Modernizing our Nation’s Infrastructure” focused on the infrastructure needs of the country, particularly rural communities.  Senators heard from witnesses representing public works agencies, including the heads of the Wyoming and Colorado Departments of Transportation.  Similar to last week’s hearing in the House, there was consensus among witnesses and Senators that any new infrastructure plan must not only rely on private investment but must also include direct federal spending to meet the nation’s infrastructure needs in both urban and rural communities.
For more information, contact Sean O’Neill at [email protected] or (202) 547-8892.

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Tax Policy Briefings Intensify Regarding Fundamental Reforms

It has been over 30 years since a wholesale revamp of the tax code has taken place. With full control of the federal government, Republicans are poised to move tax reform packages through Congress. Buzz is building about a fundamental change to the taxation of businesses through a “cash flow tax” – a tax that is levied on the cash entering the business less the cash leaving – which is included in the House Republican’s Tax Blueprint. This concept currently only applies to c-corporations, remaining silent on the treatment of pass-through (subchapter-S) firms that pay taxes through the individual rate.  However, lawmakers have yet to flesh out many details on the tax plans, and AGC will continue to monitor and analyze proposed changes that will affect our member companies.
For more information, contact Brian Lenihan at [email protected] or (202) 547-4733.

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House Votes to Rollback Blacklisting Regulations

Urge Your Senators to Repeal Blacklisting
Following a concerted AGC advocacy effort coordinated in conjunction with business organization partners, the House today voted 236-187 to repeal the regulations implementing former-President Obama’s “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces”—commonly called Blacklisting—Executive Order. Now, action moves to the Senate. Please contact your U.S. Senators and urge them to repeal the blacklisting regulations.
Under the blacklisting regulations, both prime and subcontractors must report violations and alleged violations of 14 federal labor laws and “equivalent” state labor laws during the previous three years, and again every six months, on federal contracts over $500,000. Prime contractors would also be responsible for evaluating the labor law violations of their subcontractors at all tiers during both contract solicitation and contract performance. A single alleged violation could lead a contracting officer to either (1) deny a prime contractor the right to compete for a federal contract; or (2) remove a prime contractor or subcontractor from an ongoing project. A federal court halted implementation of the Blacklisting regulations on Oct. 24, 2016. That litigation continues.
A Senate vote on repealing the Blacklisting regulations may come as soon as early next week. This is one of a handful of regulations issued in the final months of the previous administration—typically referred to as midnight regulations—that Republicans plan to repeal under what is called the Congressional Review Act, which only requires a simple majority (51 votes) in the Senate for a regulation repeal bill to pass. There are 52 Republican Senators in Senate.
Again, please contact U.S. Senators and urge them to repeal the Blacklisting regulations. For more information on the Blacklisting regulations and AGC’s advocacy efforts against them since 2014, click here.
For more information, please contact Jimmy Christianson at [email protected] or (703) 837-5325.

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President Trump Issues Regulatory Reform Executive Order

Calls for Removal of Two Old Rules for Every New Rule
President Trump this week issued an executive order requiring two regulations to come off the books for each new one issued, allowing agencies to offset the cost of new regulations by eliminating existing ones. However, it is unclear how this executive order will be implemented. The Administrative Procedures Act (APA)—the law governing the regulatory process—requires a number of steps that agencies must undertake to remove—or even tweak—an existing regulation. Agencies may be subject to court challenges during the course of repealing regulations under the APA if they fail to meet various legal criteria.
AGC will continue to review this executive order and others issued to date. For more AGC analysis on President Trump’s executive actions, click here.
For more information, please contact Jimmy Christianson at [email protected] or (703) 837-5325.

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House Starts Down Infrastructure Road

AGC Sends Letter to President Trump
This week, AGC of America and AGC chapters joined nearly 400 other associations, labor unions and transportation groups in sending a letter to President Trump expressing support for a major infrastructure plan that, among other things, addresses the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund. The letter was referenced by House Transportation & Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster in his opening remarks during his committee’s hearing on 21st Century Infrastructure.
Much like AGC’s Agenda to Rebuild American Infrastructure, the hearing focused on addressing the needs of our nation’s roads, bridges, waterways and airports. The witnesses – who included Fred Smith, President and CEO, FedEx and Rich Trumka, President, AFL-CIO – were unanimous in the need for greater investments in infrastructure including an increase in the federal gas taxes, while also acknowledging there needs to continue be a role for private investment.  Ranking Democrat on the committee, Peter DeFazio outlined his plan to pay for certain infrastructure projects, which includes indexing the gas and diesel taxes to inflation to repay 30 year treasury bonds, raising the cap on Passenger Facility Charges (PFC) for airports, and directing billions of dollars back into the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund that have been diverted to pay for deficit reduction.
With infrastructure a top priority of President Trump and a part of the House Republican’s 200 Day Agenda, AGC will continue to push for additional funding and financing for all types of infrastructure and pro-construction regulatory policies.
For more information, contact Sean O’Neill at [email protected] or (202) 547-8892.

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House to Consider Prohibiting Construction Reverse Auctions 

AGC-Backed Bill Clears Committee
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) introduced the AGC-backed bill, Construction Consensus Procurement Improvement Act, to limit federal agencies from procuring construction services through reverse auctions. In addition to addressing reverse auctions, this legislation reforms design-build procurement by reasonably limiting the second-step design-build shortlist. On Thursday, the bill easily cleared the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and it now moves to the House of Representatives for a floor vote.
AGC supports commonsense procurement reform that improves the delivery of federal construction services and benefits the government, taxpayers, small businesses, and the entire construction industry. AGC firmly believes reform of the federal procurement process should recognize construction’s unique melding of industry sectors while ensuring the government is using the most cost-effective method of procurement.
For more information, contact [email protected] or (703) 837-5368.

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Elaine Chao Confirmed as Transportation Secretary

AGC Identifies Priority Issues
By a vote of 93-6, the Senate confirmed Elaine Chao to serve as Secretary of Transportation in the Trump Administration. A handful of Democrats voted against her nomination including Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). AGC delivered a detailed letter to Secretary Chao congratulating her on the confirmation and highlighting numerous priority issues AGC would like to work with the Department to address. AGC’s top priority is to fix the Highway Trust Fund so that it can continue to support the long-term economic strength of the nation. AGC also expressed support for reducing regulatory requirements that increase inefficiencies and costs in government programs. The letter highlighted opportunities for U.S. DOT to reduce the regulatory burden and offered recommendations on regulatory programs that need to be reconsidered, including: local hire requirements, disadvantaged business enterprise program, work zone safety, hours of service, greenhouse gas measures, and guidelines for environmental reviews.
Secretary Chao previously served as Secretary of Labor and in various Transportation Department leadership positions, including Deputy Secretary. She is the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and is expected to be a major player in developing the Trump Administration’s infrastructure initiative.
For more information, contact Brian Deery at [email protected] or (703) 837-5319.

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