LATEST NEWS

Pruitt Confirmed as New EPA Administrator

On Feb. 17, the U.S. Senate confirmed President Trump’s nominee to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, after contentious debate and on a 52-46 vote that fell largely along party lines.  Pruitt addressed EPA staff for the first time in his official capacity earlier this week, expressing the need for the agency to follow the “rule of law” and to bring regulatory clarity to businesses. Although he did not go into detail in his remarks, he also signaled an interest in partnering with states through federalism.
At this point, we are not clear on the specifics of President Trump’s plans for environmental policy. It has been widely reported in the press that Trump will issue significant new executive orders now that Pruitt is installed at EPA.  For his part, Pruitt made it clear during his appointment process that he plans to fulfill President Trump’s campaign promises to focus on “job-killing” regulations, and has focused on the Clean Power Plan and Waters of the US regulations specifically. One point where Pruitt has signaled bipartisanship is his vocal support for the Agency’s water & wastewater infrastructure mission. This comes on the heels of the Trump campaign’s promise to triple the funding for the State Revolving Loan Fund programs.
AGC supports AG Pruitt’s appointment and will work with him to promote a pro-construction agenda at EPA.
For more information, please contact Scott Berry at berrys@agc.org or Melinda Tomaino at tomainom@agc.org.

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House Panel Approves AGC-Supported Regulatory Reforms​

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee passed three AGC-backed regulatory reform bills on Tuesday. The Searching for and Cutting Regulations that are Unnecessarily Burdensome (SCRUB) Act, Regulatory Integrity Act, and Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) Insight, Reform and Accountability Act collectively would establish mechanisms to unwind obsolete, duplicative, overly burdensome, and ineffective regulations. The bills will likely move to the House floor for consideration in the coming weeks.
AGC also supported several other regulatory reform bills that the House passed in January. Those bills are pending action in the Senate, which has been preoccupied with protracted cabinet confirmations.
For more information, contact Jimmy Christianson at christiansonj@agc.org or (703) 837-5325.

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AGC Continues to Advocate for Improved Policies for Infrastructure Projects

This week, AGC submitted comments to the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on the Environment for their hearing on “Modernizing Environmental Laws: Challenges and Opportunities for Expanding Infrastructure and Promoting Development and Manufacturing.” Representative David McKinley (R-W.V.) submitted AGC’s comments for the record during the hearing.
AGC’s comments focused on the need for fewer and smarter regulations, greater industry assistance and involvement, and reduced barriers to approving and moving forward on important infrastructure projects.  We have previously reached out to the Trump Administration and Congress with comprehensive recommendations on improving the regulatory landscape for the construction and industry and will continue to push for an infrastructure plan that not only provides increased funding but also removes the roadblocks to investment in infrastructure, development and manufacturing.
For more information, contact Sean O’Neill at oneills@agc.org or (202) 547-8892.

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A New DOL Secretary Nominated

What it May Mean for Construction Contractors
Today President Trump nominated Alexander Acosta to serve as the next U.S. Secretary of Labor.  The news comes one day after Andrew Puzder withdrew his nomination. AGC issued a statement on the nomination of Acosta, click here to read.
Despite today’s nomination, the DOL Secretary position is likely to remain vacant for some time longer, construction contractors are unlikely to see regulatory actions to delay, change or unwind the previous administration's most controversial regulations any time soon.  In the absence of a confirmed Trump administration secretary and his staff, career DOL personnel are generally reluctant to make significant policy decisions--like withdrawing from litigation against the silica or overtime rules; revisiting the injury and illness record-keeping rule with controversial positions on post-injury drug testing and safety incentive programs; or rolling back the paid sick leave regulation for direct-federal contractors.
Acosta will have to undergo review by a government ethics office, meet with senators, have a confirmation hearing and a confirmation vote. Despite Mr. Acosta having been previously confirmed by the Senate for prior government positions this could take several weeks. In the meantime, uncertainty will remain concerning the future of the previous administration's regulatory legacy.
For more information, contact Jim Young at youngj@agc.org or Jimmy Christianson at christiansonj@agc.org.

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AGC Joins Letter to House Committee Ahead of Hearing on NLRB

AGC joined a broad group of employer organizations on a letter to the Committee on Education and the Workforce for a hearing it held this week on “Restoring Balance and Fairness to the National Labor Relations Board.” The letter highlights the concerns with the NLRB’s August 2015 “joint employer” standard. AGC remains hopeful that the new board will eventually restore the traditional, common sense standard of joint employment liability based on “direct control”. At the same time, AGC is advocating that Congress enact a permanent legislative solution to the joint employer standard that provides certainty to employers.
For more information, contact Jim Young at youngj@agc.org or (202) 547-0133.

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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 deeryb@agc.org 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 deeryb@agc.org 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 lenihanb@agc.org 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 oneills@agc.org 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 lenihanb@agc.org or (202) 547-4733.

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