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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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Congress, President Talk About Infrastructure

Senate Dems Release Infrastructure Blueprint; House GOP adds Infrastructure to the First 200 Days Agenda; Pres. Trump Highlights Infrastructure in Inaugural Address, Looks to Restart Pipeline Projects
Infrastructure investment ideas continued to make news this week in Washington with the House, Senate and President Trump each highlighting infrastructure investment as a priority. AGC has provided recommendations to both the administration and Congress for rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure. AGC will work with President Trump and Congress to ensure that any infrastructure plan includes real, dedicated funding for all types of infrastructure, while also encouraging greater private sector investments where appropriate.
Following President Trump’s inaugural that talked about infrastructure, President Trump signed several infrastructure-related Executive Orders (EO), including one to restart the permit application for the construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines and a second to expedite environmental reviews and permitting for high priority infrastructure projects.  The White House has not released details on the contents of their infrastructure plan or when it will be released.  Several news reports this week cite a list of projects that could be built under a Trump plan but it does not appear that this list has been compiled by anyone in the Trump transition or administration.  What is known is that the National Governors Association has shared a list of potential projects that have been identified by individual states with the Trump Administration.
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats released their infrastructure blueprint, which would invest $1 trillion over 10 years in all types of infrastructure. The plan calls for direct government spending on projects but does not offer up a way to pay for it – except for “closing tax loopholes used by corporations and super-wealthy individuals.”  The plan will likely be used by Senate Democrats as a starting point in negotiations with the Trump administration. Over in the House, Speaker Paul Ryan is laying out Republican’s plan at a gathering in Philadelphia, which according to reports includes healthcare, tax reform and an infrastructure package.
For more information, contact Sean O’Neill at [email protected] or (202) 547-8892.

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AGC Signs On to Letter to President Trump Outlining Need for Infrastructure Investments

AGC, as part of a broad coalition that represents a vast cross section of the economy, is working to deliver a joint letter to President Trump following his inauguration. The letter urges the president to strengthen our nation’s economy through significant investment in infrastructure in order to end the cycle of uncertainty that has plagued America’s infrastructure network for many years.
AGC thanks all the chapters who have signed onto the letter, if your chapter has not signed on to the letter and would like to do so, please click here.
For more information, contact Sean O’Neill at [email protected] or (202) 547-8892.

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President Trump Takes Executive Action

Places a Freeze on all Federal Regulations
During his first week, President Trump is quickly moving to implement his agenda via executive order, presidential memoranda and other directives.  AGC has published a comprehensive document, President Trump’s Executive Actions, analyzing important executive directives – such as the border wall, Obamacare, and Buy America requirements – and how they may impact AGC-member businesses. It is important to note that the details of implementation of many of these actions remain to be seen, as federal agencies will have to write them.
In addition, AGC has put forth a comprehensive document entitled “The 2017 Regulatory Road Ahead” to help construction contractors better understand the regulatory state of play under the Trump administration. The regulations and actions discussed in this document include the current standing of the silica rule, overtime rule, federal clean water act permits, and paid sick leave executive order, among many others.
For more information, contact Jimmy Christianson at [email protected] or (703) 837-5325.

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AGC Urges Congress to Close the Skills Gap

AGC, along with a coalition of stakeholders, is urging Congress to reauthorize and reform the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) through a multi-industry letter. Perkins is an existing program that helps students prepare for secondary and postsecondary education by providing access to federal dollars to offset the cost of career and technical education (CTE) programs.
The reforms being advocated to Perkins include: aligning CTE programs to the needs of the regional, state, and local labor market; supporting effective and meaningful collaboration between secondary and postsecondary institutions and employers; increasing student participation in experiential learning opportunities such as industry internships, apprenticeships and mentorships; and promoting the use of industry-recognized credentials. Additionally, the letter highlights recent funding cuts to CTE programs and calls on Congress to make adequate investment in these crucial programs.
In 2016 legislation passed the U.S. House overwhelmingly and included many reforms being sought by AGC but was never considered by the Senate.
For more information, contact Jim Young at [email protected] or (202) 547-0133.

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Federal Highway Administration Extends Local Hire Pilot Program for Five Years

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced that it has extended the pilot program allowing state and local governments to use geographic hiring preferences on their federal-aid highway contracts for five years. The announcement also applies to Federal Transit Administration (FTA) assisted contracts. AGC does not support the pilot program and was successful in keeping language out of the FAST Act that would have permanently removed a prohibition against local hire mandates for FHWA- and FTA- assisted contracts.
AGC was also successful in adding language to the FY 2016 Omnibus appropriations requiring states, in order to receive permission to use a local hire preference, to certify that there is a ready pool of unemployed individuals with the necessary skills to complete the project who reside in the jurisdiction, that the contractor would not be forced to lay off any current employees to meet the mandate, and that the cost of the construction would not increase. FHWA has kept this requirement in place in this latest extension of the pilot program.
For more information, contact Brian Deery at [email protected] or (703) 837-5319.

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Budget Analysis Shows Trouble Ahead for Highway Trust Fund

Trust Fund to Remain Solvent until 2020
This week the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its annual Budget and Economic Outlook for years 2017-2027.  Included in the report – which shows the deficit increasing and non-discretionary spending shrinking – is an analysis on transportation spending.  CBO projects that both the highway and mass transit accounts of the Highways Trust Fund will remain solvent until the end of the FAST Act in September 2020.  However, they go on to predict that the Trust Fund will be facing a gap of $144 billion to remain solvent to 2027.  This means that if the FAST Act were to be reauthorized for a full five years, the Trust Fund would be short $95 billion. A six-year reauthorization would require about $120 billion.
Absent any real, dedicated new revenues, the Highway Trust Fund will be in competition for a shrinking pot of non-discretionary funding to fill the gap between revenue going into the Trust Fund and the current spending levels. The CBO report furthers underscores why AGC and other transportation stakeholders are pushing for a fix to the Highway Trust Fund in any future infrastructure or tax proposals.
For more information, contact Sean O’Neill at [email protected] or (202) 547-8892.

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Congress Shares Industry Concerns on Silica Rule with President

Today, a group of House representatives sent a letter to President Trump sharing their concerns with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) final rule on silica. The letter – which was signed by 90 members of the House – highlighted the president’s campaign theme of slashing regulations and how the silica rule fits that mantra.
The letter adds that the rule’s lower permissible exposure level is  not technological or economic feasible, OSHA used flawed data in the rule’s creation and OSHA woefully underestimated the cost of complying with the rule.
The future and the enforcement of the rule remains uncertain with the new administration just beginning to fill key positions within the Department of Labor. AGC has called on the administration to immediately extend the dates for compliance in order to allow time for Congress or the administration to roll back the rule. While a legal challenge is also pending, it’s too early to know the fate of any regulatory, legislative, or legal outcomes and contractors must continue to prepare to comply with the rule.
For more information, contact Jim Young at [email protected] or (202) 547-0133.

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