ABC-VA Blog

ABC Beltway Blueprint: Biden COVID Plan, ABC and CDW Action on Reconciliation, PRO Act Letter to Mayors, Anti-"Salting" Bill, and TPS Extension

President Biden to Announce Six-Part Plan to Combat COVID-19

 

At 5pm this evening, President Biden will unveil a six-part plan to combat coronavirus, which will include signing an executive order to require COVID-19 vaccinations for federal workers, including contractors that do business with the federal government.

 

The Wall Street Journal has also reported and the White House posted on its website that the President’s plan will also require employers with 100 or more employees to mandate vaccines for their workers or require testing at least once a week and will be required to provide paid time off for receiving vaccinations. Vaccines will also be required for health care workers at hospitals and facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursements. The information states the Labor Department in the coming weeks plans to issue an emergency temporary standard implementing the new requirement, which will cover 80 million private-sector workers, officials said. Businesses that don’t comply can face fines of up to $14,000 per violation.

 

ABC is closely monitoring the announcement and will provide updates on the proposed requirements for employers.

 

REMINDER—ABC Action Alert:

 

Earlier this week ABC issued an action alert opposing the House’s efforts to move forward with the partisan budget reconciliation process that could result in tax hikes and far-reaching labor requirements for ABC members. Please urge your representatives to oppose this package this week as House Committees continue to mark up their sections of the package.

 

ABC Letters to Ways and Means Committee:

 

This week, ABC also sent a letter to the House Ways and Means Committee expressing concerns with the tax proposals and paid leave mandate ahead of the committee’s mark-up today. ABC also joined coalitions in three additional letters addressing stepped up basis, Section 199A deduction, and Section 1031 like-kind exchanges.

 

House committees have begun formulating legislative text that is in line with their budget resolution instructions. The tentative mark-up schedule puts all 13 House committees on track to hit the Sept. 15 deadline for drafting the full reconciliation bill. That would then enable the House to bring the reconciliation bill to the floor before it votes on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the bipartisan infrastructure bill, on Sept. 27.

 

CDW Statement on Budget Reconciliation:

 

Today, the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW), composed of more than 600 major business organizations, released a statement in response to the draft budget reconciliation bill from the House Education and Labor Committee, which includes provisions from the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, including excessive penalties, unnecessary restrictions negatively impacting opportunities for gig workers and limiting employer free speech, and $5 million aimed at replacing secret ballot in union representation elections with phone-based voting— which would expose employees to union intimidation.

 

You can also view more information on the civil penalties included in the package in this write up from Littler. ABC will continue to provide additional updates on this proposal as it progresses through Congress.

 

President Biden also reaffirmed his support for restrictive labor policies and the PRO Act in an address to labor union yesterday.

 

CDW PRO Act Letter to Conference of Mayors:

 

Last month, The US Conference of Mayors passed a resolution "support[ing] the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act and other federal legislation to protect public employee collective bargaining." It was sponsored by 15 mayors. Today, the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace responded to the resolution in a letter authored by ABC’s Kristen Swearingen that urges the United States Conference of Mayors to reconsider its support of the PRO Act.

 

ABC-Supports Anti-“Salting” Legislation in U.S. House:

 

On Sept. 8, Rep. Rick Allen, R-Ga., a member of the House Education and Labor Committee, introduced the ABC-supported Truth in Employment Act, H.R. 5178. This legislation would amend the National Labor Relations Act to protect small businesses and their employees from the coercive tactic used by big unions known as “salting,” which makes small businesses targets of harassment campaigns designed to increase forced unionization. ABC issued a statement on the legislation and has long opposed the detrimental impacts of salting abuse and will continue to work with the House Education and Labor Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee to educate Congress about the negative effects that the practice has on small businesses.

 

TPS Extension:

 

In a document scheduled to be officially published tomorrow September 10, 2021, the Federal Register has announced a 15-month automatic extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for all current beneficiaries of El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Haiti, Nepal and Sudan.

 

OFCCP Issues 2021 Corporate Scheduling List for Construction Contractors

 

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs has issued the latest Corporate Scheduling Announcement List for construction contractors for fiscal year 2021, which includes 400 federal contractors, federally assisted contractors and subcontractors. Read more.

 

Statewide Vaccination Mandate Tracker:

 

Littler Mendelson has put together this chart tracking statewide vaccination mandates, which covers directives that affect public or private entities as employers, including state contractors.  The chart also indicates states where local vaccine mandates may be applicable. ABC National will continue to share this and other resources tracking state and local mandates as they are issued.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: ABC Action Alert and Reconciliation

Yesterday, ABC issued an action alert opposing the House’s efforts to move forward with the partisan budget reconciliation process that could result in tax hikes and far-reaching labor requirements for ABC members. Please urge your representatives to oppose this package this week as House Committees continue to mark up their sections of the package.

ABC also joined a coalition of organizations in a letter to the House Ways and Means Committee opposing efforts to cap the Section 1031 like-kind exchange tax provision currently in law. ABC also plans to provide committees with several other letters highlighting concerns with the reconciliation package and its potential to impact the construction industry.

Today, the Ways and Means Committee released a significant portion of the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill dealing with universal paid family and medical leave, retirement, childcare, Trade Adjustment Assistance, Medicare and more and posted the legislation on its website here. The Ways and Means Committee markup is scheduled to begin Thursday at 10 a.m. to address these provisions while the tax portions of the bill will be considered next week. 

CAMMU Press Release on Steel Prices:

Last week, the Coalition of American Metal Manufacturers and Users (CAMMU), of which ABC is a member, released a statement calling for the complete elimination of the Section 232 tariffs. The release highlights the record high steel prices for U.S. manufacturers and notes the “shortage of steel in the United States that will only worsen if and when Congress passes an infrastructure bill,” and calls on the Biden Administration to eliminate the Section 232 tariffs. The release also included the CAMMU steel price chart can be found here.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint

Budget Reconciliation Outlook:

Last week, all 220 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives voted for a $3.5 trillion budget resolution embedded in a House rule that also sets a Sept. 27 deadline for a House vote on the Senate’s bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure package. The deal was punctuated with a statement from Speaker Pelosi, memorializing the mutual understanding of the terms, and a nominal commitment from Pelosi to only vote on a reconciliation bill "that can pass the Senate," though progressive Democrats in the House pushed back, reiterating threats to vote against the bill unless they first vote for the reconciliation package, adding to the pressure to negotiate, draft, vet, and whip the bill in a matter of weeks.

House committees will begin marking up their portions of the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package bill this week and plan to assemble the full package by mid-September ahead of the promised infrastructure vote. Congress is faced with critical deadlines at the end of September including the expiration of the current surface transportation authorization and government funding for federal agencies. Today, ABC sent a letter to the House Small Business Committee outlining concerns with the reconciliation package, including potential tax increases and labor requirements for small construction companies.

Also last week, ABC sent a letter to the House opposing the reconciliation package and expressing concerns about the impact of the partisan proposal’s tax hikes and labor requirements on the nation’s construction industry.

Of note, key votes for Senate Democrats, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., have made clear their opposition to the $3.5 trillion price tag on the current budget proposal, while progressives have called the $3.5 trillion proposal a compromise. These opposing views will lead to further discussions among Democrats on a viable proposal that can pass through both chambers and support the president’s policies.

 

ABC Tells OSHA Not to Expand COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard to Construction:

On Aug. 20, the Construction Industry Safety Coalition, of which ABC is a steering committee member, submitted comments in response to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Occupational Exposure to COVID-19; Emergency Temporary Standard interim final ruleRead more.

 

EEOC Announces New Filing Deadline for EEO-1 Component 1 Data Collection for 2019 and 2020:

Due to the continuing impact of COVID-19 on business operations, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced on Aug. 18 that the 2019 and 2020 EEO-1 Component 1 data collection filing deadline has been extended to Monday, Oct. 25, 2021. The deadline was previously extended from July 19 to Aug. 23. Read more.

 

NLRB’s New General Counsel Issues Memorandum Outlining Priorities:

On Aug. 12, the National Labor Relations Board’s new general counsel, Jennifer A. Abruzzo, issued Memorandum GC 21-04 to all NLRB regional offices, which outlines the priorities of the Office of the General Counsel. Read more.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: House Democrats Push Forward with Budget Reconciliation

House Democrats Push Through Budget Framework for Reconciliation:

Yesterday, all 220 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives voted for a $3.5 trillion budget resolution embedded in a House rule that also sets a Sept. 27 deadline for a House vote on the Senate’s bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure package. The measure provided passage of the budget resolution that moves the partisan budget reconciliation process forward and also included a commitment to ensure consideration of the Senate’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that quelled the concerns from a group of ten House Democrats that held talks with Democratic leadership this week after urging for a vote on the IIJA before considering passage of the budget resolution. Speaker Pelosi has continued to call for passing the completed budget reconciliation bill before or in tandem with the bipartisan infrastructure proposal.

ABC sent a letter to the House yesterday opposing the reconciliation package and expressing concerns about the impact of the partisan proposal’s tax hikes and labor requirements on the nation’s construction industry.

Of note, key votes for Senate Democrats, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., have made clear their opposition to the $3.5 trillion price tag on the current budget proposal and their opposition will likely lead to further discussions among Democrats on a viable proposal that can pass through both chambers and support the president’s policies.

House committees will begin marking up their portions of the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package bill next week and plan to assemble the full package by mid-September ahead of the promised infrastructure vote. Congress is faced with critical deadlines at the end of September including the expiration of the current surface transportation authorization and government funding for federal agencies.

The House yesterday also passed H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, House Democrat’s proposal to restore provisions on minority voting originally enacted as part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, but that were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court several years ago. Unlike the ABC-opposed, so-called For The People Act (H.R. 1/S. 1), this legislation was narrowly focused on the judiciary and avoided larger election reform issues supported by Democrats.

 

Potential Labor Provisions in $3.5 Trillion Reconciliation Bill:

There are also reports that there will be some labor provisions included in the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, the two most discussed possibilities have been increased penalties for violations of the National Labor Relations Act and deductibility of union dues. Democrats might also look to include new requirements that would make it harder for workers to qualify as independent contractors and additional financial support for striking workers. The provisions would need to pass the scrutiny of the budget reconciliation Byrd Rule that prevents extraneous measures from passing through the reconciliation process, though Democrats believe the employer penalties and tax provision should be deemed germane to the federal budget. ABC will continue to provide critical information on the progress of the reconciliation package.

As a reminder, the Senate wrapped up their final votes before leaving town for August recess, passing their budget resolution in a 50-49 vote that will set the stage for a proposed $3.5 trillion partisan spending bill through the budget reconciliation process. The Senate concluded its “vote-a-rama” on amendments to the budget resolution, which included several GOP amendments on issues from taxes to immigration. ABC, as part of the Main Street Employers coalition, also issued a statement of support for an amendment from Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., that would prevent changes to the 199A tax deduction for small businesses, and also joined a coalition in support of an amendment by Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., to preserve Section 1031 of the tax code affecting like-kind exchanges.

 

REMINDER – 2021 Congressional Recess Grassroots Toolkit

ABC National Government Affairs has posted this year’s Congressional Recess Grassroots Toolkit in the abc.org academy, and it is also available on National Connections. Members are encouraged to review and utilize this comprehensive resource with the latest legislative updates during the August recess period. Included in the toolkit are the 116th Congress Eagle Award recipients and their staff contact information.

Please contact Patrick McCarty ([email protected]) for any questions or feedback regarding the Grassroots Toolkit. Please contact Shreya Kanal ([email protected]) with any questions related to Eagle Awards.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: Nine Democrats Call for Infrastructure Vote

House Democrats Push for Infrastructure Vote:

Late last week, a group of nine moderate Democrats in the House authored a letter to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., urging for a vote on the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed the U.S. Senate with bipartisan support in a 69-30 vote. In part the letter states:

“Some have suggested that we hold off on considering the Senate infrastructure bill for months – until the reconciliation process is completed. We disagree. With the livelihoods of hardworking American families at stake, we simply can’t afford months of unnecessary delays and risk squandering this once-in-a-century, bipartisan infrastructure package.”

Speaker Pelosi has called for passing the completed budget reconciliation bill in tandem with the bipartisan infrastructure proposal, which would likely not occur until later this Fall. Pelosi can only afford to lose three Democratic votes on the reconciliation package as it is expected to be opposed by all Republicans in the House. Speaker Pelosi also somewhat called the bluffs of the nine members in her caucus with a scheduled rule vote next week, and on a call with staff said, "This is no time for amateur hour” referring to the nine members and stated further, “There is no way we can pass those bills unless we do so in the order that we originally planned.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer informed House members earlier this month that they would be returning from recess early next week on Aug. 23. The House was not scheduled to return until Sept. 20 but are now planning to take up the $3.5 trillion budget resolution in August along with H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

It remains to be seen if the nine Democrats will oppose Pelosi and vote against a planned rule next week that would cover the budget resolution, voting rights legislation and the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Democratic leadership only plans to bring the budget resolution and voting rights legislation up for a full vote and are only “advancing” the infrastructure bill through the rule, not voting on passage.

You can view ABC’s statement on the passage of the infrastructure bill and section by section summary. You may also view ABC’s priorities and wins included in the bill as well as concerns with several labor provisions and potential executive action from the White House.

 

AAF Study on Impact of PRO Act on RTW States:

On August 13, the American Action Forum released a report on the economic impact the PRO Act would have on the 27 states with Right-to-Work (RTW) laws in place. The major findings are:

  • Three major PRO Act provisions – repealing right-to-work legislation (RTW), reclassifying independent workers as employees, and broadening the joint-employer standard – would bring significant economic costs in an effort to increase union power at the expense of worker freedom and small businesses. 
  • Between 2000 and 2015, RTW states saw a 13.3 percent increase in the number of businesses in their states, while non-RTW states only saw 4.1 percent growth in businesses. 
  • The PRO Act’s independent worker reclassification provision alone could cost as much as $57 billion nationwide.  
  • The joint-employer changes would cost franchises up to $33.3 billion a year, lead to over 350,000 job losses, and increase lawsuits by 93 percent. 
  • State-by-state analysis of these provisions indicate that the RTW states that would be most negatively affected by the PRO Act are Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. 

ABC’s Kristen Swearingen as part of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace released a statement on the report that can be read here.

 

Potential Labor Provisions in $3.5 Trillion Reconciliation Bill:

There are rumors that there will be some labor provisions included in the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill making its way through the House. The two most discussed possibilities have been increased penalties for violations of the National Labor Relations Act and deductibility of union dues. Democrats might also look to include new requirements that would make it harder for workers to qualify as independent contractors and additional financial support for striking workers. The provisions would need to pass the scrutiny of the budget reconciliation Byrd Rule that prevents extraneous measures from passing through the reconciliation process, though Democrats believe the employer penalties and tax provision should be deemed germane to the federal budget. ABC will continue to provide critical information on the progress of the reconciliation package.

As a reminder, the Senate wrapped up their final votes before leaving town for August recess, passing their budget resolution in a 50-49 vote that will set the stage for a proposed $3.5 trillion partisan spending bill through the budget reconciliation process. The Senate concluded its “vote-a-rama” on amendments to the budget resolution, which included several GOP amendments on issues from taxes to immigration. ABC, as part of the Main Street Employers coalition, also issued a statement of support for an amendment from Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., that would prevent changes to the 199A tax deduction for small businesses.

Additionally, a key vote for Senate Democrats, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., released a statement on his vote to move the budget process forward, expressing serious concerns about the proposals price tag and impact on the future of the U.S. economy, stating in part, “I have serious concerns about the grave consequences facing West Virginians and every American family if Congress decides to spend another $3.5 trillion.” Manchin’s statement shows the tough path ahead for this reconciliation package, as it will need his support along with all Democrats to pass the Senate. You can view his full statement here.

 

New NLRB General Counsel Issues Advice Memo Outlining Priorities:

On August 12, Biden’s newly-placed NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo issued Memorandum GC 21-04 to the NLRB’s regional offices identifying issues and cases that she wants directed to the NLRB for review. Some of the more than 40 issues and Trump-era decisions she flagged for review are:

 

We will be watching the Board closely as it moves forward on these issues and cases.

 

NLRB Decision on “Scabby the Rat”:

On July 21, the NLRB issued a decision saying unions can put banners, displays, and the 12-foot-tall inflatable rat nicknamed “Scabby the Rat” at neutral locations so long as they don’t “threaten, coerce, or restrain” the neutral party.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: Democrats Make Progress on Reconciliation Package

Democrats Pass Budget Resolution to Set Stage for $3.5 Trillion Reconciliation Package:

Early this morning the Senate wrapped up their final votes before leaving town for August recess, passing their budget resolution in a 50-49 vote that will set the stage for a proposed $3.5 trillion partisan spending bill through the budget reconciliation process. The Senate concluded its “vote-a-rama” on amendments to the budget resolution, which included several GOP amendments on issues from taxes to immigration. ABC, as part of the Main Street Employers coalition, also issued a statement of support for an amendment from Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., that would prevent changes to the 199A tax deduction for small businesses.

The Daines amendment passed by voice vote, along with other critical tax amendments from Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., to protect businesses against stepped up basis, Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., that would maintain the current tax treatment of like-kind exchanges, and Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., that would prevent tax increases on those making less than $400K a year. Although these amendment votes are non-binding, it puts Democrats on the record and shows how difficult it could be to obtain yes votes from all Senate Democrats for the tax increases proposed by President Biden and other top Democrats in Congress. The Democrats’ budget resolution calls for $1.75 trillion or more in higher taxes over the next 10 years.

Additionally, a key vote for Senate Democrats, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., released a statement on his vote to move the budget process forward, expressing serious concerns about the proposals price tag and impact on the future of the U.S. economy, stating in part, “I have serious concerns about the grave consequences facing West Virginians and every American family if Congress decides to spend another $3.5 trillion.” Manchin’s statement shows the tough path ahead for this reconciliation package, as it will need his support along with all Democrats to pass the Senate. You can view his full statement here.

Reports have also indicated that Democrats will seek to insert harmful labor provisions in the reconciliation package, which could include exempting union dues from taxes and monetary penalties for employers that interfere with workers’ union rights. Democrats might also look to include new requirements that would make it harder for workers to qualify as independent contractors and additional financial support for striking workers. The provisions would need to pass the scrutiny of the budget reconciliation Byrd Rule that prevents extraneous measures from passing through the reconciliation process, though Democrats believe the employer penalties and tax provision should be deemed germane to the federal budget. ABC will continue to provide critical information on the progress of the reconciliation package over the next weeks and months.

 

House Cuts Recess Short:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer informed House members yesterday that they would be returning from recess early on Aug. 23, the House was not scheduled to return until Sept. 20, but are now planning to take up the $3.5 trillion budget resolution in August along with H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. Democrats could consider additional legislation but it does not appear to be taking up the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that just passed the Senate, until the Senate also passes a reconciliation package later this fall.

 

Democrats Discharge S. 1, Federal Takeover of Elections Law:

Additionally this morning, Democrats passed the Motion to Discharge the ABC-opposed, so-called “For the People Act” (S.1) from the Rules Committee by a vote of 50-49. The bill is now discharged from committee to the full Senate, though it would still require 60 votes to pass the Senate. Earlier this year, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer forced a vote on the motion to proceed to S. 1, which ABC KEY VOTED against and which failed to gain the 60 votes needed.

 

ABC Requesting Feedback on Issues Affecting Federal Contractors

Today, ABC member contractors received a survey link to gather feedback on various executive actions and proposed rulemakings from the Biden administration that affect federal contractors and the federal procurement process. These issues include government-mandated project labor agreements, local hire requirements, prevailing wage requirements, a proposed increase to the minimum wage of federal contractors, COVID-19 vaccine and testing requirements for on-site federal contractors and more.

We are asking federal contractor members to provide their thoughts on these issues so that ABC can use these insights to respond to various rulemakings and to provide feedback on other executive actions affecting federal contractors. We are asking members to respond to this survey by 5 p.m. ET on Monday, Aug. 16.

 

Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI-3) Announces Retirement:

Yesterday, long-time Wisconsin Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI-3) announced that he will not seek a 14th term in the U.S. House of Representatives next year , telling reporters, "I've run out of gas" after 13 terms in office. It is still unclear if Rep. Kind will now seek a statewide bid, by entering the already crowded democratic primary to challenge Sen. Ron Johnson in 2022, although that seems unlikely at this point. Rep. Kind’s retirement, however, is certainly a boon for House Republicans chances to regain the House majority in 2022.

 

The move opens one of only seven US House seats that voted for ex-President Trump (51.5 - 46.8%) in 2020 while electing a Democrat to the House, thus giving Republicans a chance to convert a key district.  Derrick Van Orden (R), the retired Navy SEAL who held Rep. Kind to a 51-49% win last year, is again running and raised over $750,000 for his campaign since the year began.  Rep. Kind had won reelection in 2018 by nearly 20 points.

Because the 3rd District lies in the southwestern corner of the state, it is not expected to change much in redistricting.  Therefore, we can expect a highly competitive open seat battle here next year.  There are now 16 open seats for the 2022 election cycle, not including the three in special elections this year.  Of the 16, eight come from each party.

 

New York Governor Cuomo (D) to Resign: 

On Tuesday, Andrew Cuomo (D) announced his resignation as Governor of New York. The resignation follows the release of NY state Attorney General Letitia James’ (D) investigation that concluded he sexually harassed 11 women. Cuomo’s resignation will take effect in two weeks.

This means that Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) will ascend to the Governorship and be eligible to run for a full term in 2022. Whether she receives Democratic primary opposition is difficult to project at this point, but the chance of a contested primary forming looms large. Regardless of that outcome, however, when Hochul is sworn in, she will become the first woman in history to occupy New York State’s top office.

Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-NY-1) is already the party endorsed GOP gubernatorial candidate; however, the political consensus is that any race without a politically wounded Cuomo as the Democratic nominee will make the victory path much more difficult for Zeldin, the Republican challenger in a state that hasn’t elected a Republican state-wide since former Governor George Pataki’s three terms from 1995-2006.

 

REMINDER – Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal Passes Senate:

Yesterday, the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed the U.S. Senate with bipartisan support in a 69-30 vote, with 19 Republicans joined all 50 Senators in the Democratic caucus to approve the legislation. You can view ABC’s statement on the passage of the bill and section by section summary.

You may also view ABC’s priorities and wins included in the bill as well as concerns with several labor provisions and potential executive action from the White House.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: Infrastructure Bill Passes Senate and Reconciliation Begins Again

Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal Passes Senate:

The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed the U.S. Senate today with bipartisan support in a 69-30 vote, with 19 Republicans joined all 50 Senators in the Democratic caucus to approve the legislation. You can view ABC’s statement on the passage of the bill and section by section summary.

You may also view ABC’s priorities and wins included in the bill as well as concerns with several labor provisions and potential executive action from the White House.

ABC remained neutral on the legislation, neither opposing or supporting the bill. After the bill passed in the Senate, ABC sent a news release that notes the bipartisan accomplishments of the bill, while raising concerns over the implementation of the bill should it be signed into law and actions the administration has signaled it could take to limit participation from merit shop contractors. While the bill passed the Senate, it is not guaranteed to pass the House as Speaker Pelosi continues to insist on pairing with budget reconciliation at the demands of progressive Democrats that are essentially withholding votes for passage.

 

Democrats Begin Budget Resolution Process, Release Reconciliation Instructions:

Today, the Senate also began its “vote-a-rama” after Democrats voted to proceed to the budget resolution with reconciliation instructions. Yesterday, Democrats proposed a $3.5 trillion Budget Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2022, and Majority Leader Schumer also released reconciliation instructions for Senate committees to write different sections of the final spending bill as it relates to their policy areas. The budget resolution will give committees specific caps on how much they can increase or decrease the deficit to fund programs and raise revenue within their jurisdiction. The resolution provides a target date of Sept. 15 for the committees to submit their reconciliation legislation.

Senate Democrats released the budget resolution, planning on approving it before adjourning for the August recess. If passed, this would be the first significant step to write and pass a detailed $3.5 trillion budget, which under reconciliation, only requires a simple majority for passage. The resolution will need to pass Congress with only Democratic votes, as Republicans are expected to vote solidly against the bill which they will not be consulted on, and is expected to include the tenets of President Biden’s American Families Plan, such as significant tax increases on corporations and individuals while implementing several expansive social policies.

Reports have also indicated that Democrats will seek to insert harmful labor provisions in the reconciliation package, which could include exempting union dues from taxes and monetary penalties for employers that interfere with workers’ union rights. Democrats might also look to include new requirements that would make it harder for workers to qualify as independent contractors and additional financial support for striking workers. The provisions would need to pass the scrutiny of the budget reconciliation Byrd Rule that prevents extraneous measures from passing through the reconciliation process, though Democrats believe the employer penalties and tax provision should be deemed germane to the federal budget.

Republicans are offering several amendments to push back on Democrats’ tax and spending plans and you can view these amendments through the Republican Policy Committee amendment tracker.

 

ABC Requesting Feedback on Issues Affecting Federal Contractors

Today, ABC member contractors received a survey link to gather feedback on various executive actions and proposed rulemakings from the Biden administration that affect federal contractors and the federal procurement process. These issues include government-mandated project labor agreements, local hire requirements, prevailing wage requirements, a proposed increase to the minimum wage of federal contractors, COVID-19 vaccine and testing requirements for on-site federal contractors and more.

We are asking federal contractor members to provide their thoughts on these issues so that ABC can use these insights to respond to various rulemakings and to provide feedback on other executive actions affecting federal contractors. We are asking members to respond to this survey by 5 p.m. ET on Monday, Aug. 16.

 

REMINDER – 2021 Congressional Recess Grassroots Toolkit

ABC National Government Affairs has posted this year’s Congressional Recess Grassroots Toolkit online, which is also available on National Connections. Chapters and members are encouraged to review and utilize this comprehensive resource with the latest legislative updates during the August recess period. Included in the toolkit are the 116th Congress Eagle Award recipients and their staff contact information.

Please contact Grassroots Manager Patrick McCarty ([email protected]) for any questions or feedback regarding the Grassroots Toolkit. Please contact Shreya Kanal ([email protected]) with any questions related to Eagle Awards.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: Infrastructure Update, Recess Toolkit, and ABC Comments to DOL

Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal Update:

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is setting up a Saturday cloture vote on the bipartisan infrastructure deal in the Senate, which should lead to a final vote to approve the legislation either later this weekend or earlier next week. Once infrastructure is completed in the Senate, they could then move on to the budget resolution to set up the budget reconciliation process before Senators leave town for August recess, setting the stage for consideration of a partisan, trillion-dollar reconciliation bill when they return in September.

You can view the legislative text of the  bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and section by section summary.

ABC also released a statement on the bill earlier this week, which you can view here, and additional information on ABC’s priorities and wins included in the bill as well as concerns with several labor provisions and potential executive action from the White House. The ABC document could change as amendments are still being considered, and we will continue to update you on the bill’s progress and any additional action ABC takes.

 

2021 Congressional Recess Grassroots Toolkit

ABC National Government Affairs has posted this year’s Congressional Recess Grassroots Toolkit online, which is also available on National Connections. Chapters and members are encouraged to review and utilize this comprehensive resource with the latest legislative updates during the August recess period. Included in the toolkit are the 116th Congress Eagle Award recipients and their staff contact information.

Please contact Grassroots Manager Patrick McCarty ([email protected]) for any questions or feedback regarding the Grassroots Toolkit. Please contact Shreya Kanal ([email protected]) with any questions related to Eagle Awards.

 

ABC Comments on the Draft Department of Labor FY 2022-2026 Strategic Plan:

Today, ABC submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Labor on its strategic plan for the next 4 fiscal years. The comments focus on ABC’s support for industry and market driven apprenticeship programs, fair and open competition for federal construction projects, career opportunities in construction, workplace safety, and prevailing wage concerns.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: Infrastructure Update

Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal Update:

The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act continues to progress through the Senate, though at a somewhat slow place, as out of the more 400 amendments filed only 13 have been considered over the past few days, 5 have been approved. The amendments have all been subject to a 60-vote threshold. However, Democrats and Republicans are working to come to an agreement on additional amendment votes, which could speed along the process and wrap up amendments by Saturday, leading to a cloture vote and possible passage early next week.

Of note for construction, the Senate passed an amendment offered by Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., by a vote of 97-0 that would direct the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to ensure public-private partnership projects using Transportation Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act (TIFIA) financing have appropriate payment and performance security and are sound federal investments by requiring a surety bond. A recent Construction Executive article from last November highlights some of the issues surrounding surety bonds that you may view here.

ABC also released a statement on the bill earlier this week, which you can view here. We will continue to update you on the bill’s progress and any additional action ABC takes.

 

Federal Tax Credits Now Available When Certain Employees Use Emergency Paid Leave to Help Others Obtain or Recover from COVID-19 Vaccine (Littler Mendelson):

The federal Internal Revenue Service has announced that certain employers can claim federal tax credits when employees use emergency paid leave to accompany an individual to obtain a COVID-19 vaccination and/or to care for an individual recovering from an injury, disability, illness, or condition related to the vaccine. This credit is available for certain private employers with 499 or fewer U.S. employees, and certain public employers, that are voluntarily providing employees emergency paid leave for various COVID-19-related reasons. Read the Littler article to learn more

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: Infrastructure Legislative Text Released

Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal Legislative Text Released:

Late last night, the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was formally introduced. The 2,702 page bill is the product of the work of 22 bipartisan U.S. Senators who crafted the deal that is set to pass the Senate later this week after passing critical procedural hurdles last week.

The bill provides major new investments in the nation’s infrastructure, including $110 billion for roads and bridges, $39 billion for public transit and $66 billion for rail, $55 billion for water and wastewater infrastructure, and billions for airports, ports, broadband internet and electric vehicle charging stations.

The core bipartisan group of U.S. Senators released a statement following the finalization of the bill text for introduction: U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Susan Collins (R-ME), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Mark Warner (D-VA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Jon Tester (D-MT) issued the following statement:

“Over the last four days we have worked day and night to finalize historic legislation that will invest in our nation’s hard infrastructure and create good-paying jobs for working Americans in communities across the country without raising taxes. This bipartisan bill and our shared commitment to see it across the finish line is further proof that the Senate can work. We look forward to moving this bill through the Senate and delivering for the American people.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y, said a final vote could be held “in a matter of days.” Though Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has called for a robust, open amendment process – not one cut short by artificial timelines. ABC is still reviewing the legislation but has identified two sections of concern that we have notified Senate offices about.

First, section 41101 in the bill would require Davis-Bacon wages on any construction project funded under Division D of the bill—Energy and going forward any existing program, regardless of funding source, that is amended in Division D. Importantly, though, the expansive prevailing wage provisions are not included in other sections of the bill, like broadband.

Second, section 25019, implements a “local hiring preference for construction jobs.” Though the language does no implement a mandate for local hire, or encouragement for agencies to require local hire agreements, it states that “a recipient or subrecipient of a grant provided by the Secretary under title 23 or 49, United States Code, may implement a local or other geographical or economic hiring preference relating to the use of labor for construction of a project funded by the grant, including prehire agreements, subject to any applicable State and local laws, policies, and procedures.”

 

ABC is pursuing potential amendments to modify these sections of the bill.

We have also heard additional concerns from members regarding the inclusion of certain superfund site fees as a pay-for for the legislation. Under the bill, the superfund excise taxes on chemical manufacturers, which expired in 1995, would be implemented for the next 10 years at approximately twice their prior levels for a $1.211bn/year cost. The American Chemistry Council commented on this provision in the bill here.

Though it seems likely the bill will pass the Senate in due time, it then faces the obstacles in the U.S. House where Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has vowed not to take up the bipartisan package without also voting on a partisan reconciliation bill and House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., pushing for a conference committee on the bipartisan Senate package to include measured of the partisan House-passed $715 billion transportation bill.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: Infrastructure Deal Moves Forward with Senate Vote

Thursday, July 29, 2021
 

Infrastructure Deal Moves Forward:

Last night, U.S. senators voted to advance a bipartisan infrastructure bill, which will set up a final vote on the measure in the coming days. The procedural motion was approved 67-32, with 17 Republicans joining all Democrats to begin legislative action. The vote came just hours after senators announced that they have reached an agreement on some of the outstanding items of the bipartisan infrastructure negotiations. The breakthrough follows disagreements over legislative issues including pay-fors and transit funding that prevented a deal from emerging earlier.

In all, the deal includes $550 billion in new federal investment in America’s infrastructure, including $110 billion for roads, bridges, and major projects. Pay fors include combination of redirecting unspent emergency relief funds, targeted corporate user fees, strengthening tax enforcement when it comes to crypto currencies, and other bipartisan measures, in addition to the revenue generated from higher economic growth. You can also read more about the emerging deal here

The process moving forward now allows for up to 30 hours of debate which will be followed by an additional vote on the motion to proceed, which requires only a simple majority vote and should come up sometime on Friday. One issue facing the timing in the Senate is that the no one has yet seen the full legislative text, as it has not been written and might not have legislative text by tomorrow evening. Once ready it is likely that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will have to work out an agreement on amendments. McConnell has called for a robust amendment process on the infrastructure package, which could take up additional time. Typically, amendments germane to the bill require a simple majority while non-germane and more expansive language requires a 60-vote super majority. Following amendments would be at least one cloture vote, which must reach the 60-vote threshold, before the bill could move to final passage by simple-majority.

It is unlikely that the bill is finalized and passed in the Senate until late next week, and then faces the obstacles in the U.S. House where Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has vowed not to take up the bipartisan package without also voting on a partisan reconciliation bill and House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., pushing for a conference committee on the bipartisan Senate package to include measured of the partisan House-passed $715 billion transportation bill.

All to say we have a long road ahead and anything can still happen. ABC will provide updates on bill language and the potential impact on the merit shop construction industry as soon as available.

 

DOL Rescinds Joint Employer Rule:

Today, President Biden’s U.S. Department of Labor withdrew the ABC supported joint employer rule that updated and clarified the agency’s interpretation of joint-employer status under the Fair Labor Standards Act. DOL had earlier issued a proposed rule in March to rescind the Trump-era joint employer final rule, and on April 12, ABC submitted comments opposing the department’s proposal. ABC argued the current rule clarifies the department’s interpretation of joint employer status under the FLSA and promotes certainty for employers and employees. The department’s proposed rule to rescind the final rule is arbitrary and capricious, particularly in its primary reliance on the district court decision, which the department itself has criticized as wrongly decided in the pending appeal. 

ABC also issued a press release on the recent decision that was picked up by Reuters.

 

ABC Comments on Newly Confirmed NLRB Members:

Following yesterday’s votes in the Senate to confirm President Biden’s newest members of the National Labor Relations Board, ABC released a statement expressing concerns in their appointment to the labor board and its potential impact on employers and small businesses.

ABC, as part of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, previously urged the Senate to reject the president’s nominees, highlighting their partisan professional careers and predetermined notions on labor policy that would limit their ability to fairly arbitrate labor laws.

The U.S. Senate confirmed David Prouty by a vote of 53-46 and Gwynne Wilcox by a vote of 52-47 to serve as members of the NLRB.

 

Biden Proposes “Buy American” Rule:

President Biden yesterday released a fact sheet highlighting his proposed rule for Buy American provisions that builds on his Executive Order at the beginning of the year. The new proposed federal rule would require that products considered “Made in America” must consist of 75% domestic content by 2029 and 65 percent by 2024, a spike from the current 55% threshold. A posting of the proposed rule can be viewed here.  

While the president has touted his new rule as a boon for American businesses and manufacturers, critics of the proposal have expressed concerns that mandating additional quotas and requirements on government contractors will cause further harm to the economy and be insufficient in providing for the manufacturing and economic needs of the country.

 

U.S. Department of Labor to Offer Virtual Prevailing Wage Seminars

DOL’s Wage and Hour Division is offering virtual seminars that will include compliance assistance on the Davis-Bacon Act and  Service Contract Act. The seminars can be viewed on demand, followed by live question and answer sessions on Aug. 11, 12, 25 and 26 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. ET. Attendance is free, but registration is required by Aug. 11.  Links to video training and virtual Q&A session dates will be sent to registrants in the near future.

Learn more here.

 

TX-6—Rep-Elect Jake Ellzey Scores Upset Win in Special Election: 

Earlier this week, Texas state Rep. Jake Ellzey (R) defied the political recording a stronger vote than predicted and upset favored Susan Wright (R), widow of deceased north Texas Rep. Ron Wright (R), in the double-Republican special runoff election with a 53-47% win in the state’s 6th District, based in Tarrant County.

As also predicted, voter turnout was low: 38,994 voters as compared to 78,471 individuals who voted in the jungle primary contest.  Such a result is not surprising since Democrats, with no candidate in the race, had little reason to participate.

While ABC PAC did not endorse either candidate, Susan Wright’s loss is made more significant due to the two most prominent endorsements she received - former President Trump and the Club for Growth organization who spent well over $500,000 in her support.  Former Texas Governor and Trump Administration Energy Secretary Rick Perry, however, was a strong backer of Rep-elect Ellzey as was former 6th District Republican Congressman Joe Barton who represented this region for 34 years, retiring in the 2018 election cycle.

Upon Rep.-elect Ellzey’s swearing into the House, the Republican Conference will grow to 212 members versus the majority Democrats’ 220.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: Infrastructure Deal Reached, ABC Opposes Dems Appropriations, and Vaccine Mandate for Federal Workers

From Wednesday, July 28, 2021:


Infrastructure Vote This Evening:

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is again looking to schedule a vote tonight to move forward with a bipartisan infrastructure deal after news that Republicans and Democrats have reached an agreement on key issues on the package.

Details of the agreement have been rolling out throughout the day, including a fact sheet that alludes to “good paying union jobs”. Though full legislative text has not been released yet, notable Republicans including Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., and Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., have indicated their inclination in voting to move the bill forward and Sen. Republican Whip John Thune, R-S.D., said they have 10 Republicans that support the proposal, which could pass the 60 vote threshold if all 50 Democrats vote in favor. At this time, it seems likely that they will pass the 60 vote threshold required.  

In all, the deal includes $550 billion in new federal investment in America’s infrastructure, including $110 billion for roads, bridges, and major projects. Pay fors include combination of redirecting unspent emergency relief funds, targeted corporate user fees, strengthening tax enforcement when it comes to crypto currencies, and other bipartisan measures, in addition to the revenue generated from higher economic growth.

Read more about the emerging deal here.  ABC will provide updates on bill language and the potential impact on the merit shop construction industry as soon as available.
 

ABC Opposes Democrats’ Bloated Appropriations Bill:

In a letter to House members this morning, ABC expressed opposition to the Democrats’ all-encompassing “minibus” appropriations legislation that provides funding for key federal priorities under Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Agriculture, Rural Development, Energy and Water Development, Financial Services and General Government, Interior, Environment, Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development.

ABC’s concerns with the massive bill included the inclusion of pro-project labor agreement language in the Military Construction report language of the bill that encourages the Department of the Navy to issue PLA requirements for four public shipyard construction projects. ABC also expressed concerns with the appropriations process continuing to include limiting language for apprenticeship funding that supports only U.S. Department of Labor-registered apprenticeship programs to the detriment of market-driven apprenticeship programs offered by ABC and our member companies.

Additionally, ABC opposed the bill’s inclusion of funding to allow the NLRB to conduct union elections electronically. ABC believes that this change in long held labor law could expose workers’ personal information and allow for coercion and intimidation tactics.


President Biden Vaccine Mandate for Federal Employees:

Reports have stated that President Biden, tomorrow, will issue a requirement that all federal employees and contractors be vaccinated against Covid-19, or be required to submit to regular testing and mitigation requirements. The announcement is also set to include new incentives to spur new vaccinations across the country.

 

NLRB Finds Union Inflatables and Bannering Do Not Violate Federal Labor Law:

Last week, the NLRB issued a decision in Lippert Components Inc. 371 NLRB No. 8 (2021), finding that a union did not violate the National Labor Relations Act through its use of inflatables and banners intended to target employers. Read more about the decision here.
 

Refresh! The CDC Revisits COVID-19 Restrictions for Fully Vaccinated Individuals (Littler Mendelson P.C.)

On July 27, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its COVID-19 guidance, recommending that even individuals who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 should resume wearing masks in public indoor settings in those areas of the U.S. that have substantial or high COVID-19 transmission rates.  This announcement revises the CDC’s May 2021 guidance that fully vaccinated individuals could stop wearing masks and discontinue physical distancing in most settings. 

Read more of the Littler Mendelson article.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: Infrastructure Update and PRO Act Hearing in the Senate

Infrastructure Update:

While Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D. N.Y, continues to push a procedural vote this week on the bipartisan infrastructure bill currently being negotiate, final legislative text has not been agreed to as issues remain with policy language included in the bill and pay-fors. Without a finalized deal, Schumer plans to use existing Senate legislation as the vehicle to move forward in a procedural vote that could be amended with the finalized deal language at a later date.

Lead Republican negotiator on the bill Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, stated “It’s absurd to move forward with a vote on something that’s not yet formulated,” making it unlikely that Republicans will move forward on a procedural vote without the full legislative text of an agreement. Any vote to move forward would need 60 votes to pass, which will require all 50 votes in the Democratic caucus and at least 10 Republican votes, which remains unlikely at this time.

The bipartisan group of 22 U.S. Senators are still working to finalize the infrastructure deal but outstanding issues remain on how to pay for the new spending provided under the bipartisan group’s framework, and Sen. Schumer is facing a tight deadline ahead of the August recess. If no deal can be reached on infrastructure spending, Democrats still plan to go it alone through the budget reconciliation process that could provide trillions more in funding for Democratic priorities, though would have to obtain support from nearly all Democrats in the House and all 50 in the Senate to pass.

ABC continues to advocate for key policies that ensure no restrictive labor provisions are included and that any bipartisan deal supports the construction industry and fair and open competition for infrastructure projects.

 

Ask Your Senators to Oppose PLA Mandates in Infrastructure Legislation

If you live in one of the following states, please consider reaching out to your senator(s) included in the group of 22 bipartisan negotiators: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia. The link only works for individuals located in these states.


Senate PRO Act Hearing Thursday:

The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will hold its first hearing on the PRO Act (S. 420) this Congress. Among the list of witnesses for the Democrats include Mark Pearce, who served as Chairman of the National Labor Relations Board during the Obama Administration from 2011-2017. ABC opposed President Trump’s renomination of Pearce to serve on the board in 2018, citing his positions on the joint employer standard and ambush union elections, among others. The hearing is a dangerous step forward by Democrats to push for a vote on the legislation. However, as it currently stands, the PRO Act only has the support of 47 Senate Democrats.

ABC has drafted a letter to the committee ahead of the hearing which will include all ABC chapters that do not OPT OUT of signing onto the letter. You may view the letter here, and if you would like to opt out, please email [email protected].

Reminder that the Free Enterprise Alliance has created a website dedicated to pushing back against the PRO Act with an action alert, one-pager and social media tool kit.


Texas Judge Blocks New DACA Applications:

A Texas federal judge ordered the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to stop approving new applications under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, ruling Friday that the executive branch overstepped its discretionary authority when it created the program.

In a 77-page ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen found that DACA is unlawful and that the Department of Homeland Security can no longer approve new applicants into the program, which has granted work permits and protection from deportation to immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. Hanen also ruled, however, that DHS could continue to process DACA renewals for now as the issue continues to move through the courts.

President Biden called the ruling ‘deeply disappointing’ and said the Department of Justice would appeal the decision while urging Congress to act on the issue.


Treasury Coronavirus Recovery Funds FAQ on PLAs and NEPA:

Yesterday, the U.S. Treasury Department updated their Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds FAQs that provided further clarification of the Davis-Bacon prevailing wage issue. Please see below:

6.17. Are eligible infrastructure projects subject to the Davis-Bacon Act? [7/14]

The Davis-Bacon Act requirements (prevailing wage rates) do not apply to projects funded solely with award funds from the CSFRF/CLFRF program, except for CSFRF/CLFRF-funded construction projects undertaken by the District of Columbia. The Davis-Bacon Act specifically applies to the District of Columbia when it uses federal funds (CSFRF/CLFRF funds or otherwise) to enter into contracts over $2,000 for the construction, alteration, or repair (including painting and decorating) of public buildings or public works. Recipients may be otherwise subject to the requirements of the DavisBacon Act, when CSFRF/CLFRF award funds are used on a construction project in conjunction with funds from another federal program that requires enforcement of the Davis-Bacon Act. Additionally, corollary state prevailing-wage-in-construction laws (commonly known as “baby Davis-Bacon Acts”) may apply to projects. Please refer to FAQ 4.10 concerning projects funded with both CSFRF/CLFRF funds and other sources of funding.

Treasury has indicated in its Interim Final Rule that it is important that necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure be carried out in ways that produce high-quality infrastructure, avert disruptive and costly delays, and promote efficiency. Treasury encourages recipients to ensure that water, sewer, and broadband projects use strong labor standards, including project labor agreements and community benefits agreements that offer wages at or above the prevailing rate and include local hire provisions, not only to promote effective and efficient delivery of high-quality infrastructure projects, but also to support the economic recovery through strong employment opportunities for workers. Using these practices in construction projects may help to ensure a reliable supply of skilled labor that would minimize disruptions, such as those associated with labor disputes or workplace injuries. Treasury has also indicated in its reporting guidance that recipients will need to provide documentation of wages and labor standards for infrastructure projects over $10 million, and that that these requirements can be met with certifications that the project is in compliance with the Davis-Bacon Act (or related state laws, commonly known as “baby Davis-Bacon Acts”) and subject to a project labor agreement. Please refer to the Reporting and Compliance Guidance, page 21, for more detailed information on the reporting requirement.


The document included an additional FAQ on the NEPA:

6.4. Does the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) apply to eligible infrastructure projects?

NEPA does not apply to Treasury’s administration of the Funds. Projects supported with payments from the Funds may still be subject to NEPA review if they are also funded by other federal financial assistance programs.


Reminder—ABC-Led Coalition Advocacy Campaign Against PLA Mandates:

Build America Local, a coalition of construction industry and business organizations led by Associated Builders and Contractors, is currently running a six-figure issue advocacy campaign aimed at educating Americans and members of the U.S. Senate about controversial government-mandated project labor agreements that reduce competition and increase costs for the construction of taxpayer-funded affordable housing, clean energy and infrastructure projects across America.

Today, the publication Construction Dive highlighted the issue advocacy campaign at the top of their newsletter, saying “As the negotiating over a bipartisan infrastructure deal continues in Washington, whether PLAs are included is sure to remain a key issue, as Democrats push to include them and construction employer organizations like ABC fight to make sure they aren't.”

The campaign urges senators to oppose government-mandated PLA schemes as bipartisan infrastructure negotiations continue between a select group of Senate Republicans and Democrats and the Biden administration.

“As Congress works to craft infrastructure legislation, it is critical for the U.S. Senate to oppose government-mandated PLAs so all qualified contractors and construction workers have the ability to fairly compete and build America’s infrastructure,” said Ben Brubeck, ABC vice president of regulatory, labor and state affairs. “Ensuring fair and open competition on taxpayer-funded construction projects will ultimately result in savings to taxpayers, more opportunities for all qualified small businesses, minorities and women in the construction industry, and the construction of more quality infrastructure projects so America can Build Back Better and faster.” 

ABC chapters and members can access ABC National’s press release on the campaign here and are encouraged to share this website and announcement with external stakeholders and potential coalition members interested in the status of PLA language as infrastructure talks continue.

 

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: Schumer Pushes Forward on Budget and Infrastructure, H2B Appropriations Amendment, Weil Nomination, Treasury Comments, OSHA Heat Guidance, and PLA Ad Campaign Reminder

From Friday, July 16

Schumer Pushes Budget and Infrastructure Deals in Senate:

This week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D. N.Y., announced that the U.S. Senate has until Wednesday next week to move forward on the Democrat’s $3.5 trillion budget proposal and plans to also hold a procedural vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill currently being negotiated by Republicans and Democrats in the Senate. The issue facing Democrats and Leader Schumer is that neither of these proposals are fully fleshed out and no legislative text has been finalized.

This budget framework, which has been supported by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Democrats on the U.S. Senate Budget Committee, including the Chairman and de facto progressive leader in Congress Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., also still has to obtain the support of all Democrats in the caucus and key Democratic Senators Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Joe Manchin, D. W.Va. Both Sinema and Manchin have expressed their concerns on the strictly partisan process.

Additionally, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, said that the party’s compromise for the blueprint will include the ABC-opposed PRO Act, but declined to provide additional details on what parts of the over-reaching labor proposal would actually be submitted in the budget proposal to the Senate parliamentarian for final approval. Reports have also focused on the potential for additional monetary penalties for employers that could possibly withstand the reconciliation requirements under the Byrd Rule process that prevents extraneous provisions from being included in the legislation.

Additionally, the bipartisan group of 22 U.S. Senators working to finalize the infrastructure deal have not finalized the proposal and outstanding issues remain on how to pay for the new spending provided under the bipartisan group’s framework. The bill will also need 60 votes to pass the procedural motion, which will require all 50 votes in the Democratic caucus and at least 10 Republican votes, which remains uncertain at this time.

ABC continues to advocate for key policies in the bill that ensure no restrictive labor provisions are included and that any bipartisan deal supports the construction industry and fair and open competition for infrastructure projects.

 

Labor HHS Appropriations Committee Strips H2B Language Harmful to Construction:

Following efforts from ABC and members of the H2B Workforce Coalition, along with a letter earlier this week to the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, the committee approved an amendment offered by Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) to remove Sections 116, 117 and 118 from the Fiscal 2022 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee appropriations bill. The amendment passed by voice vote. Sections 116, 117, and 118 would have greatly harmed small and seasonal businesses and their American workers, categorically restricting numerous industries from participating in the H-2B program, including construction.

 

WSJ Highlights ABC and Business Community Opposition to Weil Nomination:

 Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal posted an article critical of President Biden’s nomination of David Weil to serve as the administrator of the DOL Wage and House Division, calling his nomination a proxy vote for the PRO Act. Please also see additional PRO Act news coverage here.

 

In part the WSJ article states:

“The Biden administration is pressing Congress to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, a legislative monstrosity that would eliminate right-to-work states and turn union bosses into the masters of workplaces everywhere. Should they fail to sneak the bill through as part of a budget-reconciliation measure (Senate rules could make that hard), the White House will deputize the Labor Department to implement as much of it as possible through regulatory fiat. Mr. Weil would be a chief enforcer, and history shows he won’t be shy.”

Weil oversaw the WHD under the Obama Administration, supporting the implementation of several harmful rules such as the “unlawful overtime rule, sweeping restrictions on the use of independent contractors, and new “joint employment” rules that imposed crushing operational and legal costs on small companies.”

The article also highlights a letter from ABC and a coalition of business associations opposing the confirmation of David Weil to be administrator of the DOL Wage and Hour Division. ABC previously expressed concerns about Dr. Weil during President Obama’s nomination to serve in the position in 2013. In the letter ABC again raised concerns about Dr. Weil’s track record and bias against employers.

 

ABC Files Treasury Comments on PLAs:

Yesterday ABC filed comments in response to the U.S. Treasury’s Interim Final Rule encouraging project labor agreements and other anti-competitive and costly labor policies on state and local sewer, water and broadband construction projects over $10 million eligible for $350B of federal dollars via American Recovery Plan Act of 2021.  ICYMI and receive questions from contractors and state and local stakeholders procuring federally assisted construction projects, on June 17, Treasury released the Compliance and Reporting Guidance document for State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds on this website. State and local governments receiving SLFRF program dollars on eligible water, sewer and broadband projects of $10 million or more must provide certification that a project uses a project labor agreement as well as other certifications concerning other labor policies like prevailing wage and local hire requirements. If the recipient does not provide such certification, the recipient must provide a project workforce continuity plan and other requirements. Relevant PLA reporting language can be found on pages 20-22.

ABC National developed a template letter (available on the ABC National Connections PLAs & Labor page) ABC chapters and members in the 24 states that have active Fair and Open Competition Act laws can use to push back on any efforts to require PLAs on infrastructure projects funded by federal dollars via the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

In a May 24 letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, ABC expressed concerns about Treasury’s May 17 interim final rule and fact sheet concerning $350 billion worth of federal funding for state and local fiscal recovery allocated in ARPA, and the encouragement of PLAs on federally assisted water, sewer and broadband projects procured by state and local governments.

In addition, ABC National’s grassroots alert to Treasury in opposition to this language received hundreds of responses.

Last month, chief House sponsor of the ABC-priority Fair and Open Competition Act, Rep. Budd (R), led a congressional letter to Treasury concerning the pro-PLA language in their rulemaking.

Please contact Ben Brubeck, Brandon Ray or Nick Steingart if you have questions or learn of PLAs being required by state and local governments on eligible ARPA-funded infrastructure projects.

 

OSHA Highlights Resources to Prevent Heat Illness and Death on Construction Jobsites:

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, more than 40% of heat-related worker deaths occur in the construction industry.  As with all incidents, heat illness is entirely preventable, provided you develop and implement simple preventive measures. 
 

OSHA offers numerous resources that will help to protect workers from heat, including:

·        Heath Safety Page: Learn about heat illness symptoms and prevention

·        Educational and training materials

·        Prevent Heat Illness at Work infographic (English and Spanish versions)

·        Prevent Health Illness at Work pamphlet (English and Spanish versions)

·        Prevent Health Illness at Work poster (English and Spanish versions)

·        Videos and graphics that organizations can use in their publications or social media campaigns

·        Publications page, which includes posters, pamphlet, and fact sheets on heat illness prevention and safety

 

Visit osha.gov for Heat - Planning and Supervision and Heat Illness Prevention guidance to help you protect your workers . Also, visit your app store to download the Heat Safety Tool smartphone app from the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health, which provides the heat index (temperature and relative humidity), symptoms of and first aid treatment for heat illness, FAQs and additional tips for working in the heat.
 

Reminder—ABC-Led Coalition Announces Advocacy Campaign Against PLA Mandates:

Build America Local, a coalition of construction industry and business organizations led by Associated Builders and Contractors, today announced a six-figure issue advocacy campaign aimed at educating Americans and members of the U.S. Senate about controversial government-mandated project labor agreements that reduce competition and increase costs for the construction of taxpayer-funded affordable housing, clean energy and infrastructure projects across America.

The campaign urges senators to oppose government-mandated PLA schemes as bipartisan infrastructure negotiations continue between a select group of Senate Republicans and Democrats and the Biden administration.

“As Congress works to craft infrastructure legislation, it is critical for the U.S. Senate to oppose government-mandated PLAs so all qualified contractors and construction workers have the ability to fairly compete and build America’s infrastructure,” said Ben Brubeck, ABC vice president of regulatory, labor and state affairs. “Ensuring fair and open competition on taxpayer-funded construction projects will ultimately result in savings to taxpayers, more opportunities for all qualified small businesses, minorities and women in the construction industry, and the construction of more quality infrastructure projects so America can Build Back Better and faster.” 

Members can access ABC National’s press release on the campaign here and are encouraged to share this website and announcement with external stakeholders and potential coalition members interested in the status of PLA language as infrastructure talks continue.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: Democrats $3.5 Trillion Budget Proposal, ABC Opposes Biden Nominations, Advocacy Campaign and H2B Letter

Democrats Propose $3.5 Trillion Budget to Unlock Reconciliation:

Last night, Democratic leadership and Democrats on the U.S. Senate Budget Committee announced an agreement on a top-line budget number of $3.5 trillion to set in motion their plan to enact a slew of partisan priorities through the budget reconciliation process that circumvents the Senate’s 60-vote threshold.

This budget framework, which has been supported by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Democrats on the U.S. Senate Budget Committee, including the Chairman and de facto progressive leader in Congress Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., still has to obtain the support of all Democrats in the caucus and key Democratic Senators Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Joe Manchin, D. W.Va. Both Sinema and Manchin have expressed their concerns on the strictly partisan process and have been part of the group of 22 bipartisan U.S. Senators pushing for the bipartisan infrastructure framework. Manchin has also stated that he wants any reconciliation proposal paid for and not adding to the national debt, however, concerns remain that if all Democrats endorse the budget proposal, it will endanger the ability to pass a bipartisan infrastructure investment.

It is also possible that the $3.5 trillion could come down significantly after internal party discussions from Democrats and could also come down in any final budget reconciliation bill that could pass the Senate due to the Byrd rule restrictions that regulate the reconciliation process.

President Biden attended lunch with Senate Democrats to talk through the proposal and told reporters after the meeting “We will get this achieved.”

 

ABC and Business Community Opposes Biden Nominees to DOL and NLRB:

This week, ABC joined a coalition of business associations in opposing the confirmation of David Weil to be administrator of the DOL Wage and Hour Division. ABC previously expressed concerns about Dr. Weil during President Obama’s nomination to serve in the position in 2013. In the letter ABC again raised concerns about Dr. Weil’s track record and bias against employers.

As part of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW), ABC also opposed the nominations of Gwynne Wilcox and David Prouty to serve as members of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) due to their biases against the employer community and clear conflicts of interest. You can view CDW’s opposition letter. CDW is concerned that Wilcox and Prouty will not be able to fairly adjudicate cases involving issues or policies on which they have previously participated.

Tomorrow, the U.S. Senate HELP Committee will hold a hearing on the nominations of Weil, and Wilcox and Prouty.  

Earlier this week, CDW also opposed the Senate motion to discharge the nomination of Jennifer Abruzzo to serve as General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board. Please find CDW's letter of opposition attached here. CDW urged the Senate to vote NO on the motion to discharge Ms. Abruzzo's nomination, which was stuck in the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) after the committee’s vote in May was deadlocked 11-11 on whether to approve her for the post. However, the U.S. Senate paved the way for her confirmation, voting 50-48 to advance her nomination yesterday.
 

ABC-Led Coalition Announces Advocacy Campaign Against PLA Mandates:

Build America Local, a coalition of construction industry and business organizations led by Associated Builders and Contractors, today announced a six-figure issue advocacy campaign aimed at educating Americans and members of the U.S. Senate about controversial government-mandated project labor agreements that reduce competition and increase costs for the construction of taxpayer-funded affordable housing, clean energy and infrastructure projects across America.

The campaign urges senators to oppose government-mandated PLA schemes as bipartisan infrastructure negotiations continue between a select group of Senate Republicans and Democrats and the Biden administration.

“As Congress works to craft infrastructure legislation, it is critical for the U.S. Senate to oppose government-mandated PLAs so all qualified contractors and construction workers have the ability to fairly compete and build America’s infrastructure,” said Ben Brubeck, ABC vice president of regulatory, labor and state affairs. “Ensuring fair and open competition on taxpayer-funded construction projects will ultimately result in savings to taxpayers, more opportunities for all qualified small businesses, minorities and women in the construction industry, and the construction of more quality infrastructure projects so America can Build Back Better and faster.” 

ABC chapters and members can access ABC National’s press release on the campaign here and are encouraged to share this website and announcement with external stakeholders and potential coalition members interested in the status of PLA language as infrastructure talks continue.

LEARN MORE

 

ABC Opposes House Labor HHS Appropriations H2B Language:

In a letter today to the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, ABC as part of the H2B Workforce Coalition urged the removal of Sections 116, 117 and 118 from the Fiscal 2022 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee appropriations bill. Sections 116, 117, and 118 will greatly harm small and seasonal businesses and their American workers, categorically restricting numerous industries from participating in the H-2B program, including construction.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: PRO Act and Infrastructure Updates. and SBA Withdraws Loan Questionnaire

PRO Act Update:

The Biden administration released an executive order last Friday on promoting competition in the American economy that continues the president’s efforts to push for passage of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. The President’s EO encourages the FTC to ban or limit non-compete agreements, ban occupational licensing restrictions, and join with the Department of Justice to prevent employers from sharing wage and benefit information with one another. The EO states that “These actions complement the President’s call for Congress to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act to ensure workers have a free and fair choice to join a union and to collectively bargain.”

ABC’s Vice President of Legislative and Political Affairs Kristen Swearingen released a statement as part of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW) criticizing the President’s actions and the impact they would have on small business throughout the country.

CDW also released a report finding that the PRO Act would reduce take-home pay for 61 million Americans who currently don’t have to pay union dues.

 

Senate Democrats could also release their budget resolution this week, outlining an overall total for a multi-trillion spending package that they plan to pass along party lines. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders has previously called for including the Protecting the Right to Organize or PRO Act under the budget reconciliation process. While it is uncertain that the PRO Act could survive scrutiny under reconciliation requirements, the willingness of the Budget Committee chairman to recommend it is a sign that Democrats could try to push additional labor requirements, including prevailing wage or project labor agreements, under reconciliation that could harm the construction industry.

 

Infrastructure Update:

While the bipartisan group of now 22 Senators continue to work on converting the agreed upon infrastructure framework into legislative language, concerns are growing as Democrats looking to release their multi-trillion budget resolution this week, which could impact the prospects of a bipartisan infrastructure deal moving forward. Two Republican Senators in the bipartisan group raised issues Monday on some aspects of the legislation and the reconciliation process that Democratic leadership is pursuing.

Late last week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said that during the weeks ahead of the August recess he intends for the Senate “to consider both the bipartisan infrastructure legislation and a budget resolution with reconciliation instructions, which is the first step for passing legislation through the reconciliation process.”

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kans., raised concerns with using IRS enforcement as a pay-for in the bipartisan infrastructure package, an issue that some conservative political groups have moved to oppose due to concerns of potential political targeting by the IRS. Moran also expressed concerns about the looming budget reconciliation process stating: “Part of the motivation is trying to make certain that we don’t spend $6 trillion,” and if the bipartisan infrastructure package lends itself towards that outcome then he could no longer support the framework.

Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., also expressed hesitation on supporting the package stating, “I’m favorably impressed with what’s been done, but we’re going to wait and look at the final thing. So there’s still a lot of negotiations going on.”

Today, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, along with 369 mayors in all 50 states, sent a letter to congressional leaders calling on them to “take immediate action” on the infrastructure framework, lending additional support for the bipartisan effort.

ABC continues to speak with key Senators to these negotiations to ensure that no restrictive labor policies are included in a final package that would negatively impact the construction industry.
 

SBA withdraws ABC-Opposed “PPP Loan Necessity Questionnaires”:

On July 2, the SBA officially notified PPP lenders that they will no longer be required to obtain “Loan Necessity Questionnaires” from borrowers seeking forgiveness of PPP loans in the amount of $2 million or more. This development will affect PPP borrowers with loans of $2 million or greater that have not yet applied for loan forgiveness.

In a notice sent July 9, the SBA said it would no longer request either version of the Loan Necessity Questionnaire: SBA Form 3509 for for-profit borrowers and SBA Form 3510 for not-for-profit borrowers. In addition, Loan Necessity Questionnaires previously requested by the SBA are no longer required to be submitted. This move comes just a few weeks after the SBA requested, on June 21, that the Office of Management and Budget withdraw its approval of the questionnaires. The SBA also noted that for PPP loans with an open request for additional information related to the Loan Necessity Questionnaire, lenders are advised to close the request in the PPP computer platform and submit the loan back to the SBA.

The SBA’s justification for ending the need for borrowers to complete these questionnaires was “influenced by the 61 comments received from members of the public regarding the questionnaires. The majority of the commenters raised objections to the questionnaires as being unnecessary and burdensome, among other things. The loan necessity reviews, including review of the Loan Necessity Questionnaire, are lengthy and have caused delays beyond the 90-day statutory timeline for forgiveness, thus negatively impacting borrowers that made their loan necessity certification in good faith.”

When the loan questionnaires were released in November 2020, ABC expressed concerns to Congress and the administration about the onerous burden that they will place on small businesses while joining a coalition of 80 organizations in letters to Congressional Leadership and SBA/Treasury regarding the PPP Loan Necessity Questionnaires. 

Although the changes are effective immediately, the SBA said it would release an FAQ shortly with more details.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint

Bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus Endorses Infrastructure Deal:

 

Today, the U.S. House Bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus formally endorsed the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure framework, releasing a statement in support of the proposal:

 

“The bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus strongly supports the Senate infrastructure framework, which is closely aligned with our own ‘Building Bridges’ proposal released last month. In light of the bipartisan, bicameral genesis of the framework, we encourage an expeditious, stand-alone vote in the House and thank our bipartisan Senate partners and the Biden Administration for working so closely with us to demonstrate that cooperation is still possible in Washington.”

 

The caucus, which includes 29 Democrats and 29 Republicans, urging "an expeditious, stand-alone vote" in the House for the proposal, could cause issues for U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s strategy to pass the bipartisan deal in conjunction with a multi-trillion budget reconciliation bill that would include additional Democratic priorities. Pelosi has indicated she will not take up either the compromise infrastructure bill or Democrats’ plan until the Senate passes both. 

 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said that the Senate will move forward with the bipartisan proposal this month and has also instructed the Senate Budget Committee to draft a “unity budget resolution” that can be presented to the full Democratic Caucus when the Senate returns next week.

 

REMINDER – TAKE ACTION - ABC Action Alert on Potential Biden Potential Pro-PLA Executive Order:

 

ABC issued an action alert for members to send to the White House and oppose the president’s efforts to strengthen an Obama-era rule on Project Labor Agreements. The Biden administration has reportedly circulated a draft executive order to expand federal agencies’ use of project labor agreements. The order would update the Obama-era order from 2009 that encouraged federal agencies to consider requiring project labor agreements when awarding contracts of at least $25 million on a case-by-case basis and permits state and local government recipients of federal money to mandate PLAs on public works construction projects. Thanks in part to ABC’s advocacy efforts, President Obama’s pro-PLA order and regulations rarely led to project labor agreements on federal construction projects (learn more here).

 

Please use the link here to contact President Biden and ask him to allow all Americans to compete to build federally financed construction projects on a fair and level playing field.

 

TAKE ACTION

 

PRO Act News Clips and Survey Reminder:

ABC and CDW have compiled national and local news articles on the PRO Act, which you can access here.

The ABC-led Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW) released a national survey on voters’ concerns with the PRO Act. The survey asked over 1,000 registered voters about the PRO Act and its impact on workers’ rights and small businesses. The survey proves Americans are concerned with the bill’s numerous radical provisions.

 

Some of the key findings:

  • Seven out of 10 voters are concerned about repealing state right-to-work protections for workers and forcing them to pay union dues or risk losing their job.
  • Three out of four voters are concerned about requiring employers to turn over employees’ personal information to union organizers without the consent of the employee.
  • Seven out of 10 voters are concerned the PRO Act limits the ability of individuals to work as independent contractors.
  • 57 percent of voters believe that Americans should not be forced to join a union as a condition of employment.
  • 67 percent of voters are concerned about eliminating ‘secret ballot’ union elections.
  • Nearly seven out of 10 (65 percent) voters are concerned about upending the franchise business model, turning existing owners of franchises into employees of their brand and reducing new franchise ownership opportunities.
  • Only 34 percent of U.S. voters think unions should have more influence.

 

The Coalition statement on the survey can be read https://myprivateballot.com/2021/06/30/national-survey-small-businesses/

 

Upcoming Republican Legislative Campaign Committee Meeting (7/18-7/20):

ABC National State Affairs staff will be attending the upcoming RLCC National Meeting, July 18 – 20, and 45 states will have legislative leadership in attendance. Due to ongoing generous support of the RLCC by the Free Enterprise Alliance, our staff will have extensive opportunities at the meeting to discuss ABC priorities, including private meetings. Linked here is a full list of attending elected officials for you to consult and see who might be attending from your state, and if there are any issues of concern or things to highlight for those legislators, please do not hesitate to reach out to Nick Steingart, Brandon Ray, and/or Ben Brubeck to discuss further.

 

Reminder: Upcoming CLRF Meeting

The next CLRF meeting will take place on July 20. Please consult with ABC’s General Counsel Maury Baskin ([email protected]) regarding any potential legal applications, and with Ben Brubeck ([email protected]) regarding any potential issue advocacy campaign applications. The deadline to submit an application is July 7. If you are unable to make the deadline, please contact Jack Buttarazzi ([email protected]) as soon as possible.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: House Democrats Add PLAs to Infrastructure Bill, ABC PLA Action Alert, PRO Act Survey and RLCC Meeting Reminders, and PAC Questionnaire

From Friday, July 2:

House Democrats Add PLA Provisions to Infrastructure Bill:

Yesterday, the House passed H.R. 3684, the INVEST in America Act, a partisan infrastructure bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives today by a vote of 221-201

Following the bill’s passage, ABC released a statement highlighting opposition to the bill’s restrictive labor policies that would impact the construction industry.  Democrats also used the en bloc amendment process that prevents consideration of each amendment based on its individual merit and helps ensure support for controversial amendments, including an amendment from Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) that would mandate project labor agreements on authorized clean energy projects.

Ahead of the vote, ABC sent a key vote letter to the U.S. House of Representatives in opposition to the bill and urged ABC members to contact their members of Congress and tell them to oppose the legislation through an ABC Action Alert.

The INVEST in America Act, which also includes a water infrastructure title, represents House Democrat’s partisan attempt to reauthorize the expiring 2015 Fast Act, which expires at the end of September. The $715 billion legislation will now wait for developments in the U.S. Senate, as they consider their own surface transportation bill along with the emerging bipartisan infrastructure agreement.


TAKE ACTION - ABC Action Alert on Potential Biden Potential Pro-PLA Executive Order:

ABC issued an action alert for members to send to the White House and oppose the president’s efforts to strengthen an Obama-era rule on Project Labor Agreements. The Biden administration has reportedly circulated a draft executive order to expand federal agencies’ use of project labor agreements. The order would update the Obama-era order from 2009 that encouraged federal agencies to consider requiring project labor agreements when awarding contracts of at least $25 million on a case-by-case basis and permits state and local government recipients of federal money to mandate PLAs on public works construction projects. Thanks in part to ABC’s advocacy efforts, President Obama’s pro-PLA order and regulations rarely led to project labor agreements on federal construction projects (learn more here).

Please use the link here to contact President Biden and ask him to allow all Americans to compete to build federally financed construction projects on a fair and level playing field.


TAKE ACTION HERE

 

Reminder – National PRO Act Survey: Voters Alarmed About PRO Act Impact on Workers’ Rights and Small Businesses:

Today, the ABC-led Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW) released a national survey on voters’ concerns with the PRO Act. The survey asked over 1,000 registered voters about the PRO Act and its impact on workers’ rights and small businesses. The survey proves Americans are concerned with the bill’s numerous radical provisions.

Some of the key findings:

  • Seven out of 10 voters are concerned about repealing state right-to-work protections for workers and forcing them to pay union dues or risk losing their job.
  • Three out of four voters are concerned about requiring employers to turn over employees’ personal information to union organizers without the consent of the employee.
  • Seven out of 10 voters are concerned the PRO Act limits the ability of individuals to work as independent contractors.
  • 57 percent of voters believe that Americans should not be forced to join a union as a condition of employment.
  • 67 percent of voters are concerned about eliminating ‘secret ballot’ union elections.
  • Nearly seven out of 10 (65 percent) voters are concerned about upending the franchise business model, turning existing owners of franchises into employees of their brand and reducing new franchise ownership opportunities.
  • Only 34 percent of U.S. voters think unions should have more influence.

 

The Coalition statement on the survey can be read https://myprivateballot.com/2021/06/30/national-survey-small-businesses/

 

Upcoming Republican Legislative Campaign Committee Meeting (7/18-7/20):

ABC National State Affairs staff will be attending the upcoming RLCC National Meeting, July 18 – 20, and 45 states will have legislative leadership in attendance. Due to ongoing generous support of the RLCC by the Free Enterprise Alliance, our staff will have extensive opportunities at the meeting to discuss ABC priorities, including private meetings. Linked here is a full list of attending elected officials for you to consult and see who might be attending from your state, and if there are any issues of concern or things to highlight for those legislators, please do not hesitate to reach out to Nick Steingart, Brandon Ray, and/or Ben Brubeck to discuss further.

 

Updated ABC PAC Questionnaire Added to National Connections:

The ABC PAC Committee has approved a revised 2021-2022 ABC PAC Questionnaire that now includes a qualifying question on the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. The updated questionnaire can be found here. For ABC Chapter reference, the 2021 – 2022 ABC PAC Candidate Questionnaire has also been uploaded to National Connections.

As a reminder, this questionnaire is an important part of the ABC PAC process. First time candidates without a voting record, must receive 100% on the ABC PAC Candidate Questionnaire in order to be considered for support.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: ABC PLA Action Alert, House Infrastructure Bill, PRO Act Survey, & Rep. Budd Letter to Treasury

TAKE ACTION - ABC Action Alert on Potential Biden Potential Pro-PLA Executive Order:

Yesterday, ABC issued an action alert for members to send to the White House and oppose the president’s efforts to strengthen an Obama-era rule on Project Labor Agreements. The Biden administration has reportedly circulated a draft executive order to expand federal agencies’ use of project labor agreements. The order would update the Obama-era order from 2009 that encouraged federal agencies to consider requiring project labor agreements when awarding contracts of at least $25 million on a case-by-case basis and permits state and local government recipients of federal money to mandate PLAs on public works construction projects. Thanks in part to ABC’s advocacy efforts, President Obama’s pro-PLA order and regulations rarely led to project labor agreements on federal construction projects (learn more here).

 

Please use the link here to contact President Biden and ask him to allow all Americans to compete to build federally financed construction projects on a fair and level playing field.

 

TAKE ACTION HERE!

 

ABC to Oppose House Democrats’ Surface Transportation Infrastructure Bill:

ABC will be key voting H.R. 3684, the INVEST in America Act, which is a partisan surface transportation infrastructure proposal that House Democrats will have on the floor for a vote tomorrow. This bill is not expected to become law and is separate from the bipartisan infrastructure negotiations that have occurred with the White House and U.S. Senators. Speaker Pelosi has pushed for a floor vote on the legislation to uphold her promise to pass an infrastructure bill in the House by July 4.

 

ABC is concerned that H.R. 3684 notably does not include several essential priorities of the construction industry that would reduce costly and ineffective regulations, increase competition, and address the construction industry’s skilled worker shortage fundamental to undertaking much-needed infrastructure modernization throughout the country. H.R. 3684 also ignores several largely bipartisan provisions included in the ABC-supported Senate surface transportation infrastructure bill, including modernizing and creating a more efficient NEPA review process and investing in an all-of-the-above workforce development strategy that affords workers and employers the freedom to choose the best way to educate construction employees that maximizes innovation while still achieving world-class safety and productivity.

 

Specifically, ABC is concerned with Section 2605, “U.S. Employment Plan,” which sets a dangerous precedent by injecting preferences into certain public transit procurements, including by favoring bidding companies that utilize registered apprenticeship programs.  H.R. 3684 also expands Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements on critical projects. While ABC supports increased financing of infrastructure projects and fair, competitive wages for workers, we are concerned that applying federal Davis-Bacon Act requirements would create additional barriers for small, local contractors to participate in the revitalization of the infrastructure in their communities.

 

National PRO Act Survey: Voters Alarmed About PRO Act Impact on Workers’ Rights and Small Businesses:

Today, the ABC-led Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW) released a national survey on voters’ concerns with the PRO Act. The survey asked over 1,000 registered voters about the PRO Act and its impact on workers’ rights and small businesses. The survey proves Americans are concerned with the bill’s numerous radical provisions.

 

Some of the key findings:

  • Seven out of 10 voters are concerned about repealing state right-to-work protections for workers and forcing them to pay union dues or risk losing their job.
  • Three out of four voters are concerned about requiring employers to turn over employees’ personal information to union organizers without the consent of the employee.
  • Seven out of 10 voters are concerned the PRO Act limits the ability of individuals to work as independent contractors.
  • 57 percent of voters believe that Americans should not be forced to join a union as a condition of employment.
  • 67 percent of voters are concerned about eliminating ‘secret ballot’ union elections.
  • Nearly seven out of 10 (65 percent) voters are concerned about upending the franchise business model, turning existing owners of franchises into employees of their brand and reducing new franchise ownership opportunities.
  • Only 34 percent of U.S. voters think unions should have more influence.

 

The Coalition statement on the survey can be read https://myprivateballot.com/2021/06/30/national-survey-small-businesses/

 

Rep. Budd Leads Letter to Treasury Advocating against PLAs:

On June 28, eight members of the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services sent an ABC-supported letter to Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen expressing concerns about the department’s guidance on $350 billion worth of federal funding for state and local fiscal recovery allocated in the American Rescue Plan and the encouragement of project labor agreements on federally assisted water, sewer and broadband projects.

“At a time when the global pandemic has upended our workforce, disrupted our businesses, and created economic turmoil, this Administration should not be promoting project labor agreements on public works construction projects that will institute arbitrary, discriminatory barriers to recovery at the expense of taxpayers,” the House members wrote. Rep. Ted Budd (N.C.), sponsor of ABC’s priority legislation, the Fair and Open Competition Act (H.R. 1284), who led the letter with fellow Republican Reps. Ann Wagner (Mo.), Alex Mooney (W.Va.), William Timmons (S.C.), Andy Barr (Ky.), Warren Davidson (Ohio) and French Hill (Ark.) joining as signatories.

 

Click here for more information on ABC’s response to the Treasury guidance.

 

To ask your member of congress to support the Fair and Open Competition Act by taking action here.

 

Upcoming Republican Legislative Campaign Committee Meeting (7/18-7/20):

 

ABC National State Affairs staff will be attending the upcoming RLCC National Meeting, July 18 – 20, and 45 states will have legislative leadership in attendance. Due to ongoing generous support of the RLCC by the Free Enterprise Alliance, our staff will have extensive opportunities at the meeting to discuss ABC priorities, including private meetings. Linked here is a full list of attending elected officials for you to consult and see who might be attending from your state, and if there are any issues of concern or things to highlight for those legislators, please do not hesitate to reach out to Nick Steingart, Brandon Ray, and/or Ben Brubeck to discuss further.

 

OSHA Adds FAQ Related to Best Practices for Protecting Workers Regardless of Vaccination Status:

 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently added a frequently asked question related to best practices for protecting workers regardless of vaccination status to its non-ETS FAQs

 

The FAQ reads:

 

What are best practices that all employers should consider taking to protect workers regardless of vaccination status?

 

Conducting a workplace risk assessment for potential COVID-19 exposure, preparing a response plan and taking steps to improve ventilation are all activities consistent with CDC guidance to promote public health and workplace health.

 

In addition, on June 10, OSHA updated its Jan. 29 guidance on Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace, which applies to nonhealthcare employers. The summary of changes as of June 10 include focusing protections on unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk workers, encouraging COVID-19 vaccinations and adding links to guidance with the most up-to-date content.

 

Read more.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: Biden Walks Back Infrastructure Statement and PLA EO Under Consideration

Biden Walks Back Infrastructure Comments:

Last week, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators and the White House stated they had reached an agreement on a framework for an infrastructure package that would provide approximately $1 trillion to address the needs of the nation’s most critical infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and broadband services for Americans. Following the announcement of the agreement on the framework for a bipartisan infrastructure package, President Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) stated that the bipartisan plan cannot move forward without passage at the same time of a partisan budget reconciliation bill that could provide trillions more dollars for Democratic priorities outlined in President Biden’s American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan.

 

While President Biden later clarified his comments in a statement, saying he does not plan to veto a bipartisan infrastructure bill if it comes without a reconciliation package, but hopes that both will come to his desk “promptly.” Sen. Schumer still intends to take up both the bipartisan deal and reconciliation instructions concurrently in July, and Speaker Pelosi pledged not to take up the bipartisan infrastructure bill in the House until the Senate passes the bipartisan package and a completed reconciliation bill—which could leave the House sitting on a Senate-approved bipartisan infrastructure package for months.

 

Biden’s comments were critical to at least keeping the deal afloat for the time being. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who has been part of the negotiations for the bipartisan infrastructure package, said Sunday that President Biden had “calmed” the waters with his clarifying statement. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also released a statement calling on President Biden to ensure Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) follow his lead on delinking the bipartisan infrastructure deal from plans to spend trillions more through budget reconciliation.

 

Biden Administration Circulates New EO On PLAs For Federal Agency Review:

According to news reports and ABC staff, the Biden administration has circulated a draft executive order to expand federal agencies’ use of project labor agreements. The order would update the Obama-era order from 2009 that encouraged federal agencies to consider requiring project labor agreements when awarding contracts of at least $25 million on a case-by-case basis and permits state and local government recipients of federal money to mandate PLAs on public works construction projects. Thanks in part to ABC’s advocacy efforts, President Obama’s pro-PLA order and regulations rarely led to project labor agreements on federal construction projects (learn more here).
 

The executive order now under consideration would direct federal agencies to implement project labor agreements when awarding bids to building contractors but allow for exemptions in limited circumstances in which the anti-competitive schemes aren’t deemed practical. ABC is working with members of the U.S. House and Senate to prevent PLA language in legislative text and push back on this issue. ABC will provide additional updates on any information coming out of the White House concerning the timing and scope of a pro-PLA EO. As a reminder, ABC is prepared to execute legal, public relations, grassroots, legislative and other advocacy tactics to push back on proposed federal pro-PLA EO and legislative policies. ABC appreciates your support of our fight against government-mandated project labor agreements and efforts to educate contracting community stakeholders about this threat to fair and open competition for taxpayer-funded construction contracts.

 

ABC National Drafts Template for FOCA States To Push Back on Treasury Policy Encouraging PLAs on Federally Assisted Infrastructure Projects Funded by ARPA

 

ABC National has developed a template letter (available on the ABC National Connections PLAs & Labor page) ABC chapters and members in the 24 states that have active Fair and Open Competition Act laws can use to push back on any efforts to require project labor agreements on infrastructure projects funded by federal dollars via the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

 

In a May 24 letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, ABC expressed concerns about Treasury’s May 17 interim final rule and fact sheet concerning $350 billion worth of federal funding for state and local fiscal recovery allocated in ARPA, and the encouragement of PLAs on federally assisted water, sewer and broadband projects procured by state and local governments.

 

ABC’s Treasury letter highlights our support for fair and open competition on federal contracts for construction jobs and requests that Treasury provide additional guidance that clarifies that state and local governments are in no way required to mandate PLAs on eligible construction projects and that the federal government’s encouragement of PLAs will not become a mandate or requirement at a later date.  While the guidance does not mandate PLAs on infrastructure projects receiving federal assistance, it is a sign of the efforts the Biden administration is taking to support PLAs and other costly labor provisions that would have damaging effects on the construction industry.

 

ABC has issued an Action Alert asking members to write the Treasury by July 16 and oppose its misguided PLA encouragement policy. In addition, ABC National will be submitting formal comments to Treasury and will assist in educating state and local stakeholders about this problematic policy.

 

Until this issue is resolved, the recent ABC template letter can be customized by ABC stakeholders in FOCA states and circulated to state and local procurement officials in an effort to educate them about this issue and ensure fair and open competition on ARPA-funded construction projects.

 

Learn more here or contact Ben Brubeck, Brandon Ray or Nick Steingart for additional assistance.

 

U.S. Department of Labor to Offer Free June 29 Webinar for Southeastern Construction Contractors Working on Federally Funded Construction Contracts:

 

On June 29, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. ET, construction contractors from the Southeast region that hold federal contracts or are interested in obtaining one are invited to join representatives from DOL’s  Wage and Hour Division and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs for a free webinar. 

 

The representatives will discuss basic requirements and compliance issues related to Davis-Bacon and Related ActsVietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act and equal employment opportunity concerns.

 

The division’s Southeast region covers Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Register to attend the webinar.

EEO-1 Component 1 Data Collection for 2019 and 2020—New Filing Deadline:

 

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced that the 2019 and 2020 EEO-1 Component 1 data collection filing deadline has been extended from July 19 to Monday, Aug. 23, 2021. However, the EEOC encourages eligible employers to file the required EEO-1 Component 1 report(s) as soon as possible.

 

According to the EEO-1 Component 1 website, the EEO-1 Component 1 report collects demographic workforce data, including data by race/ethnicity, sex and job categories, from employers with 100 or more employees and federal contractors with 50 or more employees meeting certain criteria. Resources to assist filers with their submissions are available on a dedicated website for the EEOC’s data collections.

 

Further, the EEOC states that eligible employers that have not received a 2019 and 2020 EEO-1 Component 1 notification letter via U.S. mail should contact the EEOC’s Filer Support Team at [email protected] for assistance.  Employers that have received the notification letter may now create user accounts using the company ID and passcode provided therein.  

 

More information on EEO-1 Component 1 data and other EEO data collections can be found on the EEOC website.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: Legal Conf. Registration CLOSING TODAY, 199A Letter, S. 1 Key Vote, and Sanders' Budget (from 6/22)

From June 22, 2021:

ABC Calls for Section 199A Permanence for Small Businesses:

Today, ABC joined more than 100 trade associations in opposition to potential legislation from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) that would weaken the Section 199A pass-through deduction. The Senate Finance Committee Chairman plans to propose changes to the business deduction established in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. While still being drafted, the bill is reported to take aim at phasing out the deduction for individuals making above $400,000 in annual business income, with the perk unavailable for people making over $500,000.

 

ABC believes the current provision is an essential part of the Tax Code and helps individually- and family-owned Main Street businesses remain competitive in an era of economic consolidation and concentration. Section 199A has also proven critical in enabling those businesses which were hardest hit during the pandemic to survive. As the letter released today makes clear, rolling back or otherwise limiting the deduction would have a severely detrimental effect on the 95 percent of American businesses organized as pass-throughs.

 

ABC Key Votes For the People Act:

Tonight, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will force a vote on the ABC-opposed S. 1, the For the People Act. ABC has KEY VOTED against this procedural show vote that is set to fail with complete opposition from Republican Senators and expected opposition from Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).
 

Sanders Proposes $6 Trillion Budget:

U.S. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders is set to release a draft outline of a budget resolution designed to fast-track much of President Joe Biden’s economic agenda through the budget reconciliation process. The Sanders proposal calls for nearly $6 trillion in spending, compared with what it says is $4.4 trillion proposed by Biden. Senate Democrats plan to vote on a budget in July setting up the process to pass Biden’s agenda in the fall by bypassing a Republican filibuster.
 

The proposal also calls for adding the ABC-opposed Protecting the Right to Organize, or PRO Act, to the bill using reconciliation that circumvents the 60-vote threshold required for most legislation. While the PRO Act passed the House earlier this year, it is unlikely that the bill, as written, would meet the Senate rules requirements to pass on a simple majority vote. However, the push from Sanders raises concerns that Democrats could attempt to include other restrictive and costly labor provisions into a final reconciliation package later in the year.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: Infrastructure Agreement & PLA Push Back (from 6/24)

White House Reaches Agreement on Infrastructure with Bipartisan Group of Senators:

Today, President Biden announced a deal with a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators on a framework for an infrastructure package that would provide approximately $1 trillion to address the needs of the nation’s most critical infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and broadband services for Americans. The deal also includes pay-fors that would not increase taxes on Americans and leverage public funds for private investment in the nation’s infrastructure. ABC President and CEO Mike Bellaman released a statement on the reported agreement stating the importance of ensuring any infrastructure deal avoid enacting partisan policies such as the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, government-mandated project labor agreements and a one-size-fits-all approach to workforce development.


While there is agreement on the framework, there is still significant work that needs to be done, including ensuring support from at least 60 U.S. Senators and a majority of the House, which will in large part rely on the endorsement from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). President Biden, Schumer and Pelosi have already stated that the bipartisan plan cannot move forward without a budget reconciliation bill that would provide additional funding for Democratic priorities. President Biden stated today that he would not sign a bipartisan infrastructure package that was not accompanied by a budget reconciliation bill. Sen. Schumer also stated that the Senate will take up both the bipartisan deal and reconciliation instructions concurrently in July.

The two-pronged approach supported by Democratic leadership could make it harder for Republicans to back a bipartisan package if they know that Democrats will enact their additional priorities through the budget reconciliation process that circumvents the 60-vote requirement in the Senate. Republicans could view the demand for budget reconciliation as corrupting the bipartisan process on infrastructure and sink the deal, leaving Democrats to hold the bag on any funding deal that passes through reconciliation and own the outcome during an election year in 2022. Though in the minority, support from Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell may be the key to ensuring passage of a bipartisan proposal.

 

ABC National Drafts Template for FOCA States To Push Back on Treasury Policy Encouraging PLAs on Federally Assisted Infrastructure Projects Funded by ARPA

 

ABC National has developed a template letter (available on the ABC National Connections PLAs & Labor page) ABC chapters and members in the 24 states that have active Fair and Open Competition Act laws can use to push back on any efforts to require project labor agreements on infrastructure projects funded by federal dollars via the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

 

In a May 24 letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, ABC expressed concerns about Treasury’s May 17 interim final rule and fact sheet concerning $350 billion worth of federal funding for state and local fiscal recovery allocated in ARPA, and the encouragement of PLAs on federally assisted water, sewer and broadband projects procured by state and local governments.

 

ABC’s Treasury letter highlights our support for fair and open competition on federal contracts for construction jobs and requests that Treasury provide additional guidance that clarifies that state and local governments are in no way required to mandate PLAs on eligible construction projects and that the federal government’s encouragement of PLAs will not become a mandate or requirement at a later date.  While the guidance does not mandate PLAs on infrastructure projects receiving federal assistance, it is a sign of the efforts the Biden administration is taking to support PLAs and other costly labor provisions that would have damaging effects on the construction industry.

 

ABC has issued an Action Alert asking members to write the Treasury by July 16 and oppose its misguided PLA encouragement policy. In addition, ABC National will be submitting formal comments to Treasury and will assist in educating state and local stakeholders about this problematic policy.

 

Until this issue is resolved, the recent ABC template letter can be customized by ABC stakeholders in FOCA states and circulated to state and local procurement officials in an effort to educate them about this issue and ensure fair and open competition on ARPA-funded construction projects.

 

Learn more here or contact Ben Brubeck, Brandon Ray or Nick Steingart for additional assistance.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan, 199A Tax Bill, Manchin Campaign Finance Proposal, and Supreme Court Obamacare Ruling

Bipartisan Group of Senators Support New Infrastructure Proposal:

Last Wednesday, a bipartisan group comprised of 11 Republican U.S. Senators Richard Burr (N.C.), Bill Cassidy (La.), Susan Collins (Maine), Lindsey Graham (S.C), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Rob Portman (Ohio), Mitt Romney (Utah), Mike Rounds (S.D.), Thom Tillis (N.C.), Todd Young (Ind.) and Jerry Moran (Kan.), and ten Democratic and Independent Senators Chris Coons (Del.), Maggie Hassan (N.H.), John Hickenlooper (Colo.), Mark Kelly (Ariz.), Angus King (Maine), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), Jon Tester (Mont.) and Mark Warner (Va.), announced their support for a bipartisan infrastructure plan, stating: “We support this bipartisan framework that provides an historic investment in our nation’s core infrastructure needs without raising taxes,” the senators said. “We look forward to working with our Republican and Democratic colleagues to develop legislation based on this framework to address America’s critical infrastructure challenges.”


The framework is reported to provide $579 billion in new spending and $1.2 billion total over the next 8 years to address the nation’s critical infrastructure needs. The plan would be paid for in part by unspent COVID relief funds, public-private partnerships, and infrastructure revolving funds, avoiding significant tax increases that the White House and Democrats in Congress have proposed through rolling back portions of Republican’s signature tax law from 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

 

With 11 Republicans supporting the proposal, it could overcome the 60-vote filibuster threshold in the Senate if Senate Majority Leader Schumer were to put the final product on the Senate floor for a vote. As it currently stands, additional details will be needed to flesh out the legislative language and determine the applicability of the recommended pay-fors.

 

It also remains to be seen if President Biden will support this deal, though he has called for bipartisanship in an infrastructure proposal and this could be seen as a significant bipartisan victory for the new president during a period of heightened partisanship in Washington. White House officials stated yesterday that “The White House team was grateful for the briefing from the Democratic senators involved in the infrastructure negotiations, and found it productive and encouraging. They look forward to briefing the president tomorrow after his return to the White House, and continuing to consult with senators and representatives on the path forward.”

 

Top Democrat Pursues Tax Hike on Small Businesses:

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (Ore.) plans to propose changes to a business deduction established in Republican’s 2017 tax law. Reports have indicated that Sen. Wyden’s legislation, which is still being drafted, will take aim at a temporary deduction of up to 20% that is available under Section 199A for partnerships, LLCs, and other entities taxed only at the individual owner level. Wyden will likely aim to start phasing out the deduction for individuals making above $400,000 in annual business income, with the perk unavailable for people making over $500,000.

 

While changes to the pass-through deduction weren’t included in President Joe Biden’s infrastructure and social spending proposals, Kimberly Clausing, a top Biden U.S. Treasury official, said recently that she “wouldn’t read much into the absence” of the 199A break from the administration’s plans so far. ABC will oppose any changes to section 199A that would increase taxes for our small businesses and has worked to support a permanent extension of the provision, which is set to expire after 2025. ABC will continue to provide updates on this proposal and our efforts to maintain this critical small business tax deduction.

 

Republicans Shoot Down Manchin Campaign Legislation Compromise:

This week, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) circulated a memo to his Democratic colleagues with recommended changes to the ABC-opposed S. 1, the For the People Act. This proposal comes ahead of a planned procedural show vote by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) next week, that is doomed to fail with complete opposition from Republican Senators. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said today that Republicans would also oppose the compromise election reform proposal put forward by Sen. Manchin, stating: "I would make this observation about the revised version ... all Republicans I think will oppose that as well if that were to be what surfaced on the floor.”

 

Supreme Court Tosses Out Obamacare Lawsuit:

The Supreme Court on Thursday threw out a lawsuit threatening the entirety of the Affordable Care Act, finding that Republican-led states behind the case did not have legal ground to challenge the landmark health care law. The 7-2 decision preserves President Obama’s signature health care legislation and may serve as the final chapter on the legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act.

The latest case was brought by a group of 18 states led by Texas and two individuals. The Trump White House had also filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs, that had taken issue with the controversial “individual mandate” that originally required all Americans to have health insurance or pay a financial penalty, though Congress rendered the provision irrelevant in 2017 when it reduced the penalty for individuals to nothing.
 

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: Infrastructure Update

Infrastructure Update:

This next week will be pivotal in determining the success of an infrastructure proposal from a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators while Democrats in Congress are also proceeding with a budget reconciliation process that would likely include President Biden’s American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan. House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth (D-N.Y.) said yesterday that “we're assuming right now that everything will be done by reconciliation.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also echoed this approach, while touting a “two track” option for passage of Democrats’ infrastructure priorities, stating "one track is bipartisan and the second track pulls in other elements of Biden's American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan, which will be considered even if it doesn't have bipartisan support.” 

 

While Democratic leadership may be pursuing reconciliation, not all Democratic Senators have expressed their support in moving forward with the partisan proposal, including key votes Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) who are continuing to pursue bipartisan negotiations. However, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who leads the Congressional Progressive Caucus, says her members plan to oppose the current bipartisan infrastructure bill proposal unless Democrats also commit to moving a second bill under reconciliation that would include a list of Democratic priorities like paid family leave and enhancing public education. Additionally, At least two Senate Democrats — Sens. Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Jeff Merkley of Oregon — have signaled they will oppose an infrastructure deal unless it invests more in fighting climate change.

 

Today, the Senate Commerce Committee also held a markup hearing on its portion of the surface transportation reauthorization, S. 2016, the Surface Transportation Investment Act, and approved the legislation by a committee vote of 25-3. ABC sent a letter to the committee expressing general support for the bipartisan proposal while highlighting some key concerns. ABC will continue to provide updates on the development of this and other infrastructure proposals in Congress.

 

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: Infrastructure Update & Biden Regulatory Agenda

Infrastructure Update:

A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators are seeking support from their colleagues and the White House on a tentative infrastructure package they negotiated last week, calling the plan a “realistic, compromise framework to modernize our nation’s infrastructure and energy technologies.” The plan “would be fully paid for and not include tax increases,” the senators added, and on Sunday, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) detailed three mechanisms for funding the proposal: an infrastructure financing authority; repurposing funding approved by Congress in March for COVID-19 relief; and a provision for electric vehicles for use of roads and bridges. Collins also stated that the proposal won’t include any gas tax hike or any undoing of Republicans’ signature 2017 tax bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. However, the president and many democrats have called for raising the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% to cover the cost of any infrastructure plan.  Additionally, Democrats have pushed for an infrastructure bill to address climate change and include clean energy provisions.

 

While details of the bipartisan proposal remain unclear, the package is reported to include:

  • $1.2 trillion of spending over eight years
  • $974 billion spent over the first five years
  • The plan calls for $579 billion dollars of new spending.
  • The spending will be focused on core, physical infrastructure.

 

The fate of the bipartisan proposal largely lays in the hands of the president, whose support will be necessary to get Democrats on board with moving forward. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has also hinted at pursuing a two-pronged approach to infrastructure, potentially allowing for a bipartisan infrastructure deal to pass Congress, while then working to support a budget reconciliation package that would allow a partisan vote on Democrats’ priorities and additional funding on the proposals included in President Biden’s American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan. ABC will continue to provide updates on the development of this and other infrastructure proposals in Congress.

 

Biden Administration Releases Spring 2021 Regulatory Agenda:

On June 11, the Biden administration released its Spring 2021 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions. The agenda lists upcoming rulemakings and other regulatory actions from each agency that the administration expects to publish through the end of the year and into 2022.

Issues coming out of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration include a request for information seeking public input on a possible rulemaking on heat illness prevention in indoor and outdoor settings in October 2021, a proposed rule on infectious diseases in December 2021 and a proposed rule on occupational exposure to crystalline silica to determine if revisions to Table 1 in the standard for construction may be appropriate in April 2022.

The DOL’s Wage and Hour Division is expected to issue a proposed rule to update and modernize the regulations implementing the Davis-Bacon Act and others acts to provide greater clarity and enhance the usefulness of these acts in the modern economy in November 2021. The agency also stated their intent to examine joint employment relationships under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration intends to issue a proposed rule to update NHTSA's National Environmental Policy Act implementing regulations in September 2021, and the Council on Environmental Quality plans to issue a multi-step proposal to revise its 2020 NEPA regulations in July 2021.

ABC is following additional regulations expected to come out of the U.S. Departments of Energy and Housing and Urban Development, National Labor Relations Board, Environmental Protection Agency, and more.

More information on these and other rulemakings can be found in the Spring 2021 agenda as well as in this week’s Newsline.

 

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: ABC Member Testifies at House Hearing, OSHA ETS Rule, Transportation Update, Tariffs, Labor Standards, and PRO Act Articles

ABC Member Testifies Before House Small Business Committee:

Today, Annie Mecias-Murphy, co-owner and president of Associated Builders and Contractors member JA&M Developing Corp., headquartered in Pembroke Pines, Florida, testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Small Business Committee Subcommittee on Contracting and Infrastructure on the negative impacts that the Biden administration’s infrastructure plan would have on small business contractors.

Mecias-Murphy testified on behalf of ABC and serves on the board of directors for the association’s Florida East Coast Chapter. In her testimony, she urged Congress to invest in America’s infrastructure, ensure that small construction businesses are not excluded from the competitive bidding process for federal infrastructure projects and expand workforce development opportunities in the construction industry.

You may view ABC’s press release on the hearing here and full replay of the hearing here.


Update—OSHA Announces COVID-19 Healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard:

Today, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced a COVID-19 Healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard, which focuses requirements on healthcare workers that are most likely to have contact with someone infected with COVID-19. The ETS establishes new requirements for settings where employees provide healthcare or health care support services, including skilled nursing homes and home healthcare, with some exemptions for healthcare providers who screen out patients who may have COVID-19. 

 

The Construction Industry Safety Coalition, which ABC is a steering committee member, issued a release stating:

“The Construction Industry Safety Coalition is pleased that the Biden administration and OSHA listened to the concerns and recommendations of the construction industry in formulating a COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard. OSHA made the right decision to issue an ETS to cover tasks associated with high exposure risk levels and not construction operations, which are generally low risk.”

Read the release.

 

Staff is currently reviewing the OSHA COVID-19 Healthcare ETS with counsel and will provide further details. Note: it is important for ABC members who perform work at health care facilities to be aware that they may be impacted by the ETS. While it is not entirely clear at this time, ABC encourages its members involved in health care facility work to consult counsel.

 

OSHA also updated its Jan. 29 guidance on Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace, which applies to non-healthcare employers. The summary of changes as of June 10 include:  focusing protections on unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk workers, encouraging COVID-19 vaccination and adding links to guidance with the most up-to-date content.

 

House Passes Partisan Surface Transportation Bill and Senate Bipartisan Group Reaches Tentative Deal:

Today, Democrats on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed a partisan, ABC-opposed $547 billion package out of committee, sending the bill to potential consideration on the House floor later this summer. ABC sent a letter to the committee highlighting key amendments we supported and express overall concerns with the partisan nature of the legislation.

The bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus released its own infrastructure plan this week as well, which would cost $1.25 trillion, including $762 billion in new spending, but did not say how it would pay for the investments.

Additionally, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators reached a tentative agreement on an infrastructure package, releasing a statement calling it a “realistic, compromise framework to modernize our nation’s infrastructure and energy technologies,” according to the joint statement released today. The plan “would be fully paid for and not include tax increases,” the senators added. However, Senate Finance Chairman Democrat Ron Wyden has said that the bipartisan negotiations have produced nothing acceptable to Democrats and it is time do an infrastructure bill under budget reconciliation. ABC will continue to monitor these proposals and the impact it could have on ABC members and our nation’s construction industry.
 

ABC Pushes for Removal of 232 Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum:

Yesterday, ABC joined the Coalition for Metal Manufacturers and Users and 33 organizations in a letter to the President urging him to terminate the Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs on our national security and trade allies. The associations’ letter builds on a separate letter from 300-plus U.S. manufacturing companies who last month requested that the Biden administration put an end to these tariffs, which are damaging a wide range of U.S. businesses. You can also view an article on the issue here.

 

Biden-Harris Administration Reiterate Support for Restrictive Labor Standards in Efforts to Compete With China:

Today, the Biden-Harris Administration announced key findings from the reviews directed under Executive Order (E.O.) 14017 “America’s Supply Chains,” as well as immediate actions the Administration will take to strengthen American supply chains to promote economic security, national security, and “good-paying, union jobs here at home.”

The report, authored by the White House, assesses supply chain vulnerabilities across four key products: semiconductor manufacturing and advanced packaging; large capacity batteries, like those for electric vehicles; critical minerals and materials; and pharmaceuticals and advanced pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). The recommendations from review also reiterate the administration’s support for restrictive labor standards that exclude non-union employers, including in automotive battery production and manufacturing and mining, where the White House report states:

 

“Requiring strong labor protections, including prevailing wage requirements, use of Project Labor Agreements and community hire on construction projects, union neutrality policies for employers, and a ban on mandatory arbitration agreements, as relevant to the proposed scope of work.”

 

Another of many recommendations from the report to rebuild our production and innovation capabilities was to use immediate administrative authorities to support an ecosystem of producers and innovators including small and medium enterprises and skilled workers:

 

Specifically, work with industry and labor to create pathways to quality jobs, with a free and fair choice to join a union, through sector-based community college partnerships, apprenticeships and on-the-job training:  The Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) should support sector-based pathways to jobs, for example in the semiconductor industry.  We recommend that the Administration use ETA funds to work with industry and labor, community colleges, and non-profit partners to support pathways to advanced manufacturing employment through Registered Apprenticeship programs and by supporting other labor-management training programs.”

 

President Biden signed Executive Order (E.O.) 14017 on Feb. 24, 2021 directing the U.S. government to undertake a comprehensive review of critical U.S. supply chains to identify risks, address vulnerabilities and develop a strategy to promote resilience.

 

In response to the report, this week the administration also announced a new "Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force to tackle near-term bottlenecks" in various industries including semiconductors and home building & construction. We expect to see similar recommendations from this ask force which is being led by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

 

PRO Act Headlines:

Below are some recent news headlines on the dangers of the PRO Act, including an op-ed from ABC’s President & CEO Mike Bellaman:

 

The PRO Act Would Kill Worker Choice and Career Dreams

The Washington Examiner

Michael Bellaman

June 9, 2021

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/op-eds/the-pro-act-would-kill-worker-choice-and-career-dreams

 

The truth is, since 1947, workers in the United States have had the freedom of choice to join a union through a fair and private ballot process, …Unfortunately, the Protecting the Right to Organize Act would fundamentally eliminate all of these choices by forcing workers to join a union, overturning "right to work" laws in 27 states, and ensuring that workers’ private information is handed over to the unions without their consent.

PRO Act Could Chill Attorney-Client Interactions

Law360

Shari Klevens, Sarah Phillips

June 9, 2021

https://www.law360.com/employment-authority/articles/1390770/pro-act-could-chill-attorney-client-interactions

 

Proposed legislation H.R. 842, the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, long feared by attorneys, is one step closer to becoming reality. The PRO Act, which recently passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, would, among other things, amend the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, or LMRDA, to require employers and their advisers — including lawyers and law firms — to file public reports with the U.S. Department of Labor disclosing any arrangements that indirectly persuade employees regarding union organizing or collective bargaining.

 

Second UAW President Sentenced to 28 Months in Prison in Union Corruption Probe

CNBC

Michael Wayland

June 10, 2021

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/06/10/second-uaw-president-sentenced-to-prison-in-union-corruption-probe.html

 

The immediate past president of the United Auto Workers was sentenced Thursday to 28 months in prison for his part in a scheme with other leaders to steal as much as $1.5 million in union funds for lavish trips, golfing, alcohol and other luxuries. Gary Jones is the second UAW president to be sentenced as part of a multiyear corruption probe into the prominent American labor union.

 

Manchin’s Favorite Bills Start Colliding With His Favorite Senate Rule

Forbes

Andrew Solender

June 9, 2021

https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewsolender/2021/06/09/manchins-favorite-bills-start-colliding-with-his-favorite-senate-rule/?sh=1b7a1cbc1def

 

More Manchin-backed bills could be on the chopping block in the coming months, such as the PRO Act, a bill expanding labor protections that Manchin endorsed in April but which lacks any semblance of GOP support in the Senate.

 

STATE COVERAGE

 

PRO Act is Bad for Alaska Businesses, Workers

Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman

Steve Colligan

June 10, 2021

https://www.frontiersman.com/opinions/letters_to_editor/pro-act-is-bad-for-alaska-businesses-workers/article_034bb77a-c9aa-11eb-a2b5-d77cff29cd3f.html

 

Democrats in Washington, D.C. are trying to push through massive changes to federal labor law that will hurt local businesses, workers, and communities across the state. Legislation misleadingly known as the “Protecting the Right to Organize Act” (PRO Act) would disrupt employer-employee relations while undermining the ability of local businesses to maintain their operations. In doing so, it would threaten economic opportunities across Alaskan industries, from tech companies to local fishing, energy, and tourism businesses that keep our economy afloat.

 

How Ted Cruz Can Stop MLB From Locking Out Players

Los Angeles Times

Bill Shaikin

June 10, 2021

https://www.latimes.com/sports/story/2021-06-10/ted-cruz-can-save-major-league-baseball-owners

 

Cruz and the Senate could take the lockout card off the table. Under the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, lockouts would be banned, unless employees already had gone on strike. The players’ union has publicly supported the PRO Act. The league has said nothing, aware that the number of senators currently committed to vote yes is not enough to win.

 

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: Infrastructure Talks Abandoned & Davis-Bacon Expansion

Biden and GOP Abandon Infrastructure Talks:

President Joe Biden and GOP Sen. Shelley Moore Capito walked away from their weeks long infrastructure negotiations, according to an administration official, and the president will now focus on working with a bipartisan group of 20 U.S. Senators. The administration also has the option of pushing for a package through budget reconciliation, but Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has expressed his opposition to the move, leaving Democrats at least one vote short without Republican support.

An administration official said Biden never agreed to shift coronavirus relief funds to pay for infrastructure – a major GOP request – and that Republicans never increased the price tag of their offer enough to satisfy Biden, who sought at least $1 trillion in new spending over current infrastructure spending levels.


Cornyn Davis Bacon Amendment Vote in Senate:

Today, an amendment offered by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) to remove unnecessary Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements included in S. 1260, failed a vote by 42-58. ABC sent a letter key voting in support of the amendment #1858 to S. 1260, the United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021, formerly the Endless Frontier Act. The final vote on S. 1260 passed 68-32.

8 Republicans joined Democrats in opposing the amendment, Sens. Blunt (Mo.), Capito (W.Va.), Daines (MT), Kennedy (La.), Murkowski (Alaska), Sullivan (Alaska), Portman (Ohio), and Rubio (Fla.).

 

ABC Key Votes Motion on Paycheck Fairness Act:

Today, ABC sent a key vote letter in opposition to a Senate vote on cloture on the motion to proceed to H.R. 7. The cloture vote failed to pass the 60-vote threshold needed to advance the bill in the Senate.

ABC is adamantly opposed to unlawful discrimination of any kind and is strongly committed to equal employment, but believes current laws, specifically Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963, properly address problems with wage disparities and discrimination in the workplace. We are concerned about many of the provisions contained in this legislation, including its unprecedented government intervention. 


Update on State COVID-19 Liability Protection Laws: 

As many states wrap up legislative sessions in these early summer weeks, note that 30 states have now enacted liability shield policies for businesses amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, providing members with a layer of protection against undue litigation stemming from employee coronavirus exposure when proper protocols and safeguards have been implemented and enforced by the employer. States saw a significant need to protect employers, particularly small businesses, who have acted in good faith and executed effective COVID safety plans to minimize exposure and spread while continuing essential work. The map below (via Bloomberg Law) shows the states that have taken action so far, with two additional states, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, currently advancing legislation. For further information on these policies, as well as other COVID-related legislation, please consult this useful database from the National Conference of State Legislatures, of which ABC is a member through FEA support.


 

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: Infrastructure and Manchin

Infrastructure Talks Continue:

While no breakthrough seems imminent, infrastructure talks between President Biden and Senate Republicans continue as they try to reach an agreement on significant federal investment in the nation’s infrastructure.

While Biden rejected Republicans’ proposal to add an additional $50 billion to their $928 billion counterproposal on infrastructure spending, according to a report last week from the Washington Post, the President outlined “a plan for about $1 trillion in new spending” while taking his proposed corporate tax rate increase from 21 to 28 percent off the table if it would result in an agreement with Republicans. Publicly though, the president has only agreed to reduce his initial $2.23 trillion proposal to $1.7 trillion. According to the report, Biden has also proposed an alternative tax plan that would amount to a new minimum corporate tax of 15 percent. President Biden will meet again today with top GOP negotiator Sen. Shelley Moore-Capito (R-W.Va.)

House Democrats are also moving forward with their partisan infrastructure package that would provide $547 billion in funding for infrastructure over five years, that would also impose labor and workforce requirements that ABC has previously opposed. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will be marking up the bill on Wednesday.

While the Democrats have the ability to overcome Republican opposition by using the budget reconciliation process, Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has said that he would not support passing the infrastructure package through budget reconciliation and called the notion of proceeding on a major piece of legislation without GOP support “a disaster waiting to happen.” 
 

Manchin Opposes Democrats’ Campaign Finance and Election Law:

Over the weekend, U.S. Senator from West Virginia Joe Manchin expressed his opposition to S. 1, the Democrats’ legislation to overhaul campaign finance and election law, ensuring that the bill fails to even acquire 50 votes in the Senate if Majority Leader Schumer decides to put the bill up for a vote. Manchin stated in his op-ed,  “partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy” and reiterated that he will not vote to scrap or modify the legislative filibuster. S. 1 had been a major talking point for many Democrats who were seeking to implement filibuster reforms in the U.S. Senate to pass the legislation. Manchin’s opposition to the bill and his reaffirmed support for the 60-vote filibuster threshold in the Senate also dashes Democrat’s hope of moving forward additional partisan legislation through this Congress outside of the budget reconciliation process.

ABC opposes S. 1 and recently sent a letter on the bill to the Senate Rule Committee, highlighting the association’s concerns with the legislation. Like H.R. 1, that passed the House earlier this year, ABC believes that S. 1 is a direct threat to associations like ABC and our ability to inform and engage our members on the issues critical to their livelihoods and the construction industry. Additionally, the bill would seek to impose disclosure requirements on ABC members, opening them up to undue targeting and harassment that could intrude on their businesses and private lives.


Paycheck Fairness Act:

This week, Senate Democrats could potentially force a vote on the House-passed, and ABC-opposed Paycheck Fairness Act. ABC has consistently opposed this legislation’s unprecedented government intervention into the workplace that could have devastating effects on how workers in the construction industry are paid. The vote remains uncertain this week but is expected to fail to garner the 60 votes needed to break the Senate filibuster against the bill.

In the 116th Congress, Republicans introduced an alternative gender pay parity bill, modeled on bipartisan legislation that Republican governors in Massachusetts, Vermont and Maryland have signed into law that focus on closing the wage gap between men and women.

 

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: Legislative Cheat Sheet

ABC Cheat Sheet 2021:

With ABC’s Legislative Week taking place this week in Ponte Verda Beach, Florida, ABC Legislative Affairs has put together our cheat sheet for members who are meeting or talking with their members of Congress this year. You can view the cheat sheet here or a mobile version here

 

Infrastructure Update:

On Sunday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said that the White House needs a “clear direction” by the time the Senate returns on June 7 and reports have surfaced saying that White House aides are eyeing June 9 as their soft deadline. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Chuch Schumer said he will plan to pass President Biden’s infrastructure plan in July, and Speaker Pelosi has maintained her hope of passing a package in the House by July 4. Today, President Joe Biden will meet with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, the West Virginia Republican who has led the GOP’s talks with the Biden administration, as they try to resolve disputes over what they say should go into a plan and how the government should pay for the investments.

With Democrats and Republican still far apart on what they want to see in an infrastructure package, Democrats and the President are under increasing pressure to act through the budget reconciliation process to complete a bill this year. Complicating the budget reconciliation process though is a new ruling from the Senate Parliamentarian. Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough said that to revise a budget resolution, such as the fiscal 2021 resolution used to pass the Covid 19 relief bill in March, the measure must go through committee and have floor amendment votes, making the process of revising a budget as time consuming as doing a fresh budget.

MacDonough also ruled that there must be a legitimate reason, such as a new economic downturn, and not just to avoid a Senate filibuster to pass Democratic priorities. Limiting the ability to revise a budget makes it more likely Democrats will attempt a fresh fiscal 2022 budget to bypass Republicans if bipartisan infrastructure talks fail.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint

ABC Supports Bipartisan Senate Infrastructure Proposal:

Yesterday, ABC sent a letter to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in support of the bipartisan Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act. The bill passed committee unanimously by a vote of 20-0 and would allocate $311 billion over 5 years for the nation’s infrastructure. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), ranking member of EPW and lead GOP negotiator on the broader push, said the bill approved Wednesday can serve as an "anchor" for broader efforts. And EPW Chair Tom Carper (D-Del.) said of the bill that “it won't be the final version.” 

Full text of the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act can be found here along with a section-by-section and summary. Notably, the bill includes several ABC priorities such as no PLA mandates, codification of the one federal decision for environmental review and requirements for major infrastructure projects and additional tools to make the review requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) more efficient. Additionally, the bill would provide states more flexibility to support transportation workforce development and education.

The bipartisan package comes at a time when Democrats and Republicans remain far apart on a comprehensive federal infrastructure investment package, though today, Senate Republicans presented a $928 billion infrastructure plan, coming up from their previous $568 billion proposal, while the White House’s latest $1.7 trillion offer, came down from its original $2.3 trillion. However, the scope of an infrastructure package and how to pay for it remains to be decided, and President Biden has set a Memorial Day target for making progress in the bipartisan talks. Without an agreement soon, Congressional Democrats are prepared to move forward without Republicans using the budget reconciliation they used for the $1.9 trillion spending bill in March.

Additionally, more than 200 U.S. House Democrats signed a letter to the president today to express their support for expansive and dangerous labor provisions in all aspects of infrastructure investments from the federal government.
 

ABC to Lead New Tax Coalition:

This week ABC joined over 30 top business trade associations representing a broad swath of the American economy recently announced the launch of a new coalition to oppose the Biden administration’s job-killing tax proposals. 

ABC will be serving as one of the management committee members for America’s Job Creators for a Strong Recovery, a coalition of associations representing individual and family-owned businesses and corporations that oppose job-killing tax increases as the country looks to move past the COVID-19 pandemic. ABC believes that the tax increases proposed by the president on America’s job creators would stall the economic recovery rather than fuel it and counteract the economic benefits of smart infrastructure spending. 

 

ABC Joins Letter to Oppose Biden Tax Proposal:

Earlier this week, ABC joined a coalition of associations in opposing a recent tax proposal from the Biden administration. ABC supports the continuation of stepped-up basis and is concerned about the economic damage that step-up repeal via tax at death would inflict on family-owned construction businesses.

President Biden’s proposal would repeal stepped-up basis by imposing capital gains taxes when assets transfer ownership at death, forcing many family-owned businesses to liquidate assets or lay off employees to cover the tax burden. This new tax would be imposed on top of any existing estate tax liability, further compounding the negative impacts and creating a second tax at death.

 

ABC’s Greg Sizemore Appointed to OSHA Advisory Committee:

Greg Sizemore, ABC vice president of health, safety, environment and workforce development, has been appointed by the U.S. Department of Labor to serve as a representative for U.S. construction employers on the Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health, which provides advice and assistance to the assistant secretary on occupational safety and health in construction standards. See more information on the appointment in the press release here.


ABC PAC Reception Next Week:

ABC PAC is hosting a poolside reception (flyer attached) at the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort on Thursday, June 3. All attendees are required to have a current company prior authorization on file with ABC PAC.

To learn more about ABC PAC and sign a prior authorization online, please click here.

 

Unionstats.com Now Includes Construction Wage Data:

Unionstats.com, which performs a yearly analysis to calculate state-by-state construction industry unionization numbers, has updated their website to include historical wage data for union and nonunion workers in the construction industry. Of note, the wage data combines residential and non-residential construction and is not broken down by the individual trades. Nonetheless, chapters should be aware of this development as Unionstats.com is a commonly cited source for state unionization data. The wage data, which is not broken down by state, shows historical wages in the industry going back to 1973. As a reminder, ABC National’s talking points on Davis-Bacon and prevailing wage includes talking points related to union and nonunion wages, which can be accessed through National Connections here.  

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ABC Beltway Blueprint

ABC Responds to Treasury PLA Guidance:

In a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yelen, ABC expressed concerns anout Treasury’s guidance on $350 billion worth of federal funding for state and local fiscal recovery allocated in the American Rescue Plan, and the encouragement of project labor agreements on federally assisted water, sewer, and broadband projects. .

ABC’s letter highlights our support for fair and open competition in federal contracts for construction jobs and requests that Treasury further provide guidance that clarifies that state and local governments are in no way required to mandate PLAs on eligible construction projects and that the federal government’s encouragement of PLAs will not become a mandate or requirement at a later date.

While the guidance does not mandate tying PLAs to federal assistance, it is a sign of the efforts this administration is taking to support PLAs and other costly labor provisions that would have damaging effects on the construction industry.

 

Infrastructure Update:

While negotiations on a larger federal infrastructure investment continue, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee released its bipartisan surface transportation bill. The Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021 sets a new baseline funding level at a historic high of $303.5 billion for Department of Transportation programs for highways, roads, and bridges. This marks an increase of more than 34 percent from the last reauthorization to pass Congress, the FAST Act, in 2015.

Full text of the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act can be found here along with a section-by-section. Notably, the bill includes several ABC priorities such as no PLA mandates, codification of the one federal decision for environmental review and requirements for major infrastructure projects and additional tools to make the review requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) more efficient. Additionally, the bill would provide states more flexibility to support transportation workforce development and education.

The bill is expected to go through a committee markup on Wednesday, and ABC will provide additional updates to the bill’s progress.

 

OSHA Revises FAQ on Recording Adverse Reactions Related to COVID-19 Vaccinations:

ABC is pleased that the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has re-evaluated its frequently asked question on recording adverse reactions related to COVID-19 vaccinations. 

On May 10, ABC, as a steering committee member of the Construction Industry Safety Coalition, wrote to OSHA urging it to review and revise its recently issued FAQs, on whether employers must record adverse reactions caused by COVID-19 vaccinations that are required and/or recommended by employers. Refer to the Newsline article on this issue to learn more.

 

Revised OSHA FAQ:

Are adverse reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine recordable on the OSHA recordkeeping log?

DOL and OSHA, as well as other federal agencies, are working diligently to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations. OSHA does not wish to have any appearance of discouraging workers from receiving COVID-19 vaccination, and also does not wish to disincentivize employers’ vaccination efforts. As a result, OSHA will not enforce 29 CFR 1904’s recording requirements to require any employers to record worker side effects from COVID-19 vaccination through May 2022. We will reevaluate the agency’s position at that time to determine the best course of action moving forward.

 

Section 1031 Webinar:

The Real Estate Roundtable is leading a coalition of organizations, including ABC, to push back against President Biden’s proposal to restrict section 1031 of the tax code allowing for real-estate like-kind exchanges. RER is holding a briefing for Members of Congress, staff, and stakeholders that will explain what a like-kind exchange is, describe how they are used to finance economic development and support local communities, and examine the potential unintended consequences of legislative changes. The meeting will be held virtually on Thursday, May 27, 2021, 2:00 - 3:00 PM ET, and members may REGISTER here.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: Infrastructure Update

Infrastructure Update:

Today, the top Republican negotiator in a potential infrastructure deal, U.S. Senator from West Virginia Shelley Moore Capito, signaled positive conversations with the administration on efforts to reach a bipartisan deal that would avoid a partisan, reconciliation package pushed through Congress by Democrats.

In an interview, Sen. Capito said the next two weeks will be critical in determining whether there’ll be a deal with the White House. She doubted, however, that a bill can make it through the House and Senate by a July 4 deadline proposed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Sen. Capito and other Republicans met Tuesday with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, National Economic Adviser Brian Deese and other administration officials to discuss a revised Republican counteroffer to Biden’s $2.25 trillion infrastructure proposal, which married physical transportation improvements with social spending and corporate tax increases.

Republicans are set to increase their initial $568 billion counteroffer though have not given a specific on how high they are willing to go. Additionally, Capito said she expects the White House to respond to the GOP ideas, hopefully Thursday or Friday.

Additionally, House Republicans introduced their Surface Transportation reauthorization bill, the STARTER Act 2.0. (Section by Section) Unfortunately, an explicit Davis Bacon requirement is included on the BUILD Grants section, though the bill contains no PLA mandates and does contain ABC-supported federal permit streamlining language.

Here are some top lines of STARTER Act 2.0:

Surface Transportation

  • $400 billion reauthorization of FAST Act programs.
  • Increases the Private Activity Bonds cap from $15 billion to $45 billion.
  • Reauthorizes the discretionary grant program that promotes nationally and regionally significant infrastructure projects that improve the efficiency of freight movement (INFRA).
  • Makes permanent the BUILD Grant program, which funds multi-modal projects that encourage the economic viability of the Nation, a metropolitan area, or a region, and authorizes $1 billion per year for FY22-FY26.
    • Davis-Bacon requirement on projects funded under this section.

 

Environmental Reviews for Major Projects

  • Sets a government-wide goal of limiting the time required for environmental reviews and authorization for major infrastructure projects to two years from the publication of a notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS), to issuance of a record of decision (ROD) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
  • Requires federal agencies to develop a single permitting timetable for environmental review and authorization decision. (One Federal Decision).
  • Sets page limits of 150 pages for an EIS, and 75 pages for an environmental assessment (EA).
  • Permits a project sponsor to assist agencies in conducting environmental reviews to help speed up the process and to resolve issues without taking control or authority away from the lead agency.
  • When determining whether the effects of a Federal action are significant, agencies must only consider the reasonably foreseeable effects with a reasonably close causal relationship to the action being considered and may not consider the cumulative effects of the action in conjunction with other actions.

 

Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives

  • Encourages more states and groups of states to participate in the program while building on the successful state pilots to-date.
  • Expands the focus on data collection and analysis to deliver actionable recommendations to begin implementing a national VMT program.
  • Creates a national pilot program established by DOT, in consultation with the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) to test vehicle miles travelled (VMT) reporting systems and revenue collection mechanisms.

 

Steel and Aluminum Trade:

The United States and the European Union agreed on Monday not to escalate their dispute over U.S. steel and aluminium tariffs, averting steep EU tariff hikes while the two sides launch formal talks on addressing excess global capacity largely centered in China. However, the United States will maintain its tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum despite the announcement. Those duties also apply to imports from China, India, Norway, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, Japan and South Korea among others metals-exporting countries. While the move is a step in the right direction, ABC continues to advocate for President Biden to roll back these tariffs unilaterally to further benefit the U.S. economy.

ABC also circulated a coalition letter the other week for members to sign. Link to the letter is here.

 

Senate CRA on EEOC:

Today, the Senate passed S.J.Res.13, which would use the Congressional Review Act to disapprove the “Update of Commission's Conciliation Procedures” finalized by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The resolution has not yet been passed by the House.

ABC previously signed a letter in opposition of this CRA resolution, and support of EEOC’s new procedures that ABC believes strike a fair balance for claims brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.
 

Section 1031 Webinar:

The Real Estate Roundtable is leading a coalition of organizations, including ABC, to push back against President Biden’s proposal to restrict section 1031 of the tax code allowing for real-estate like-kind exchanges. RER is holding a briefing for Members of Congress, staff, and stakeholders that will explain what a like-kind exchange is, describe how they are used to finance economic development and support local communities, and examine the potential unintended consequences of legislative changes. The meeting will be held virtually on Thursday, May 27, 2021, 2:00 - 3:00 PM ET, and members may REGISTER here.

 

Coalition Member Hosts Tax Webinar:

The S Corp Association held a tax webinar last week and have shared with ABC and other coalition members of the Parity for Main Street Employers Coalition. The presentation focused on the “Triple Threat” pass-throughs face from the Biden-Harris administrations proposed tax plan — it would raise taxes on their operations, their sale, and when they are passed on to the next generation. A recording of the webinar is available here. And if you’d like a copy of the PowerPoint presentation used, click here to download it.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: ABC Supports Joint Employer Bill, DOL Seeks Nominees and more

ABC Supports Joint Employer Bill:

Last week, ABC joined 65 organizations in support of legislation introduced by Sen. Marshall and Rep. Comer, the Save Local Business Act, that would clarify the joint employer standard. ABC was also quoted in the press release for the bill, stating:

“Efforts by Democrats in Congress and the White House to redefine and expand the joint employer standard under the dangerous PRO Act (S. 420/H.R. 842) would disrupt hundreds of thousands of business operations throughout the country and threaten the ability of America’s workers to achieve the American dream of owning their own business. ABC thanks Senator Marshall and Rep. Comer for introducing this critical legislation to ensure stability in the economy and help contractors and subcontractors across the country recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. We support the Save Local Business Act and urge Congress to act swiftly to pass it,” said Kristen Swearingen, Vice President of Legislative & Political Affairs, Associated Builders and Contractors.


DOL Seeks Nominees for Re-established Apprenticeship Committee

On May 4, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a notice re-establishing the Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship and calling for membership nominations. According to a DOL news release, the ACA will include a diverse set of stakeholders from across the nation – including unions, employers, apprentices, community colleges and other institutions – to build a Registered Apprenticeship Program that works in all communities. The deadline to submit nominations is June 3, 2021. ABC National will nominate Vice President of Health, Safety, Environment and Workforce Development Greg Sizemore to serve on the committee.

Additionally, the DOL will host a public webinar on May 20 from 11-12 p.m. ET to provide stakeholders and interested parties with an overview of the structure and work of the ACA, the Departmental goals around diversity and balance for the Committee, and to answer questions from individuals interesting in applying, or nominating someone to serve on the ACA.

Interested parties can register for the webinar here; registration for this event is limited and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

 

ABC Urges Revisions to OSHA’s Latest FAQs Regarding COVID-19 Vaccine Adverse Reactions

On May 10, ABC, as a steering committee member of the Construction Industry Safety Coalition, wrote to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration urging it to review and revise its recently issued Frequently Asked Questions on whether employers must record adverse reactions caused by COVID-19 vaccinations that are required and/or recommended by employers. Read more.
 

Update on ABC Lawsuit Against DOL for Withdrawal of Trump-era Independent Contractor Rule

On May 14,  the Coalition for Workforce Innovation, ABC, ABCSETX  and the Financial Services Institute filed an Amended Complaint challenging the U.S. Department of Labor’s unlawful withdrawal of the Independent Contractor Rule. The Department’s hasty and unjustified action violates the Administrative Procedure Act, compounding a violation that began when the Department improperly delayed the effective date of the Rule in March. Read the joint statement.

 

OSHA Draft COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard Still at OMB for Review

On April 27, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration sent a draft OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget for review. The review at OIRA is usually the final step in the process before a rule is officially published. At this time, neither OIRA nor DOL have made the content of the ETS public. Stakeholder meetings at OMB are now scheduled through May 24, so ABC staff does not expect the ETS to be officially published before that date. 

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: S. 1 Deadlocked, Infrastructure Talks Continue, Treasury Encourages PLAs, ABC Urges OSHA Revisions, CDC Guidance

Senate Deadlocked on S. 1:

Following a mark-up of S. 1 by the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, the ABC-opposed For the People Act, failed to move forward with a 9-9 tie for and against the bill by committee members. The tie means Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) likely would have to use a Senate procedure to bring the legislation to the floor, and the failure of the final vote, as well as a key manager’s amendment by Democratic Chairwoman Sen. Amy Klobuchar, showed the difficult task Democrats will have in getting the bill through the evenly divided Senate.

ABC sent a letter to the committee, highlighting the association’s concerns with the legislation. Like H.R. 1, that passed the House earlier this year, ABC believes that S. 1 is a direct threat to associations like ABC and our ability to inform and engage our members on the issues critical to their livelihoods and the construction industry. Additionally, the bill would seek to impose disclosure requirements on ABC members, opening them up to undue targeting and harassment that could intrude on their businesses and private lives.

ABC believes that it is critical to ensure the continuation of our constitutionally protected freedom of association and the privacy of our members.


Infrastructure Talks Continue:

Following the meeting yesterday between the White House and top Congressional leadership from both parties, questions remain on a bipartisan path forward for a significant federal infrastructure proposal. While Republicans unveiled a $568 billion plan earlier this month, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has since stated that the proposal could be as much as $800 billion. However, questions surrounding what is included in a potential final package, how much it costs, and how it is paid for remain unanswered.

While Democrats have proposed increasing the corporate tax rate to pay for the infrastructure proposal, McConnell (R-Ky.) said following their meeting “We're not interested in re-opening the 2017 tax bill. We both made that clear with the president. That's our red line.” Speaker Pelosi also reiterated her intention to pass a bill in the House by July 4, following the meeting.

Another meeting today between Senate Republicans and President Biden kicked off on a positive note with the president indicating his willingness to compromise on his $2 trillion proposal.

Additionally, today the Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Tom Carper (D-Del.) announced that the committee is writing final language on a five-year surface transportation reauthorization bill that will be “a little bit north of $300 billion.” ABC advocated for a bipartisan process in drafting this bill and the inclusion of language to prevent PLA mandates on federal projects. We will be reviewing the legislation for any provisions having an adverse effect on the merit shop construction industry.

Earlier this week, ABC sent a letter to the White House with more than 900 signatures from chapters and ABC member companies from 47 states and DC. The letter highlights concerns with President Biden’s American Jobs Plan and recommendations for improvements to assist the construction industry, including opposition to the PRO Act, eliminating burdensome regulations, streamlining the permitting process, and supporting bipartisan workforce development efforts. The letter was also shared with congressional leadership and members of Congress.

ABC also urges members to use ABC’s resources to highlight our concerns about government-mandated PLA’s in an infrastructure package including:

  1. www.BuildAmericaLocal.com
  2. FEA website on PLAs/FOCA includes a social media kit, fact sheets, op-eds, letters, research and a donation page:  https://freeenterprisealliance.org/foca/
  3. www.TheTruthAboutPLAs.com (https://twitter.com/truthaboutplashas and https://www.facebook.com/TheTruthAboutPLAs on social media) has historical research, news and analysis about our fight against GMPLAs since 2009
  4. This PLAs & Labor page on the password protected National Connections has resources for chapter staff to fight GMPLAs as well as other Labor Relations toolkits: https://nationalconnections.abc.org/Political-Advocacy/PLAs-Labor
  5. Finally, for those of you looking for ideas to push back on state and local GMPLAs with public-facing advocacy, CLRF supported a campaign for ABC VA which produced this statewide website in 2020 for a state legislative fight and then a related microsite in 2021 to fight a local GMPLA ordinance:
    1. https://buildvalocal.com/fairfax/

 

Treasury Encourages PLAs on Federally Funded Water, Sewer, and Broadband Projects:

Earlier this week, Treasury released guidance on $350 billion worth of federal funding for state and local fiscal recovery allocated in the American Rescue Plan, which was signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11.

As part of the interim final rule, Treasury released a fact sheet detailing how this money can be used to offset state and local budget shortfalls, support COVID-19 response efforts and address economic stabilization for households and businesses.

Unfortunately, there is pro-PLA language and other pro-union terms in the interim final rule, stating:

“Treasury’s Interim Final Rule also encourages recipients to ensure that water, sewer, and broadband projects use strong labor standards, including project labor agreements and community benefits agreements that offer wages at or above the prevailing rate and include local hire provisions.”

While the guidance does not mandate tying PLAs to federal assistance, it is a sign of the efforts this administration is taking to support PLAs and other costly labor provisions. You can view an overview of the guidance here, and ABC will be providing additional information on our plans to push back on these requirements and will update members.

 

ABC Urges Revisions to OSHA’s Latest FAQs Regarding COVID-19 Vaccine Adverse Reactions:

On May 10, ABC, as a steering committee member of the Construction Industry Safety Coalition, wrote to U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration urging it to review and revise its recently issued Frequently Asked Questions on whether employers must record adverse reactions caused by COVID-19 vaccinations that are required and/or recommended by employers. Read more.

 

CDC Guidance for the Fully Vaccinated:

Per the CDC: “Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: ABC Member Infrastructure Letter, Senate Hearing on S. 1, and the American Rescue Plan Funds

ABC Members Infrastructure Letter to White House:

Today, ABC sent a letter to the White House with more than 900 signatures from chapters and ABC member companies from 47 states and DC. The letter highlights concerns with President Biden’s American Jobs Plan and recommendations for improvements to assist the construction industry, including opposition to the PRO Act, eliminating burdensome regulations, streamlining the permitting process, and supporting bipartisan workforce development efforts. The letter was also shared with congressional leadership and members of Congress.

Of note, on Wednesday, President Biden will host the top Republican and Democratic congressional leaders at the White House for the first time to discuss infrastructure priorities, and the next day, the president hosts GOP senators to talk specifically on an infrastructure bill. If the two sides remain far apart, Democrats will likely move forward on their own through the use of budget reconciliation.

ABC also urges members to use ABC’s resources to highlight our concerns about government-mandated PLA’s in an infrastructure package including:

  1. www.BuildAmericaLocal.com
  2. FEA website on PLAs/FOCA includes a social media kit, fact sheets, op-eds, letters, research and a donation page:  https://freeenterprisealliance.org/foca/
  3. www.TheTruthAboutPLAs.com (https://twitter.com/truthaboutplashas and https://www.facebook.com/TheTruthAboutPLAs on social media) has historical research, news and analysis about our fight against GMPLAs since 2009
  4. This PLAs & Labor page on the password protected National Connections has resources for chapter staff to fight GMPLAs as well as other Labor Relations toolkits: https://nationalconnections.abc.org/Political-Advocacy/PLAs-Labor
  5. Finally, for those of you looking for ideas to push back on state and local GMPLAs with public-facing advocacy, CLRF supported a campaign for ABC VA which produced this statewide website in 2020 for a state legislative fight and then a related microsite in 2021 to fight a local GMPLA ordinance:
    1. https://buildvalocal.com/fairfax/


Senate Holds Mark Up Hearing for S. 1:

This morning the Senate Rules and Administration Committee held a hearing on S. 1, the ABC-opposed For the People Act. ABC sent a letter to the committee, highlighting the association’s concerns with the legislation.

Like H.R. 1, that passed the House earlier this year, ABC believes that S. 1 is a direct threat to associations like ABC and our ability to inform and engage our members on the issues critical to their livelihoods and the construction industry. Additionally, the bill would seek to impose disclosure requirements on ABC members, opening them up to undue targeting and harassment that could intrude on their businesses and private lives.

ABC believes that it is critical to ensure the continuation of our constitutionally protected freedom of association and the privacy of our members.


State and Local Government Eligible Use of Funds from American Rescue Plan:

Yesterday the U.S. Department of the Treasury released guidance on the eligible use of funding allocated in the American Rescue Plan, which was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden in March. The legislation authorized $350 billion for state and local fiscal recovery, which can be used to offset budget shortfalls, support COVID-19 response efforts, and address economic stabilization for households and businesses, among other objectives.

 

As part of the final rule, the Department of the Treasury released this fact sheet detailing eligible and ineligible use of local government funds. Notable guidance on the use of eligible funds that could affect the construction industry include:

 

  • Investing in water and sewer infrastructure: State and localities may use funding to invest in an array of drinking water infrastructure projects, such as building or upgrading facilities and transmission, distribution, and storage systems, including the replacement of lead service lines. Recipients may also use this funding to invest in wastewater infrastructure projects, including constructing publicly-owned treatment infrastructure, managing and treating stormwater or subsurface drainage water, facilitating water reuse, and securing publicly-owned treatment works.
  • Investing in broadband infrastructure: States and localities may use funds to ensure broadband be made in areas that are currently unserved or underserved. They are also encouraged to prioritize projects that achieve last-mile connections to households and businesses.
  • Replacing lost public sector revenue: State, local, territorial, and Tribal governments that are facing budget shortfalls may use Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to avoid cuts to government services. States and localities will have broad latitude to use this funding to support government services.

 
Additional information, including the amount allocated to states, counties, and metropolitan areas, can be found on the Treasury’s website.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: ABC Slams Withdrawal of IC Final Rule

ABC Slams U.S. DOL’s Withdrawal of Trump-era Independent Contractor Final Rule:

On May 5, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the withdrawal—effective May 6—of the Trump-era independent contractor final rule. While expected, this action is extremely disappointing since ABC strongly supported the Trump DOL final rule, which would have clarified the department’s interpretation of independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act and promoted certainty for employers, independent contractors and employees. Read more.

 

Reminder--Sign on Letter to White House:

ABC is urging member companies to sign on to a letter to the administration highlighting concerns with President Biden’s American Jobs Plan and recommendations for improvements to assist the construction industry, including opposition to the PRO Act, eliminating burdensome regulations, streamlining the permitting process, and supporting bipartisan workforce development efforts. We currently have over 1,000 sign-ons and will be closing the letter and finalizing signatures tomorrow afternoon. You may view the letter and sign on here.

 

Groups Sign on Letter Opposing PRO Act:

Today, Americans for Tax Reform led a letter with more than 70 other good governance groups in opposition to the PRO Act.

ABC’s Kristen Swearingen also released a statement regarding Sen. Mark Warner’s PRO Act comments from earlier this week, saying in part: “While Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) should be applauded for articulating that provisions of the PRO Act that would force American workers into an outdated ‘1980s type of economy’ putting independent contractors out of work, we urge him to dig deeper into the rest of the PRO Act, particularly those provisions that would devastate small businesses, strip away workers’ privacy rights and force them into labor agreements that eliminate Virginia’s right-to-work protections.”

 

ABC, Coalition Push Back on White House Promotion of Government-Mandated Project Labor Agreements:

On May 5, ABC and a coalition of 16 industry and employer groups sent a letter to President Joe Biden raising concerns about the administration’s direct expansion and support of legislative policies encouraging or requiring controversial government-mandated project labor agreements on federal and federally assisted construction projects. Read more from today’s Newsline.

 

Language in Senate Clean Energy Tax Credit Overhaul Bill Would Chill Competition from Merit Shop Contractors:

On May 4, ABC sent a letter to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) raising concerns about provisions in the Clean Energy for America Act that would expand new government-registered apprenticeship program requirements and Davis-Bacon prevailing wage regulations onto the construction of projects receiving clean energy tax incentives. ABC is troubled by provisions in the legislation that will needlessly increase construction costs and reduce competition from qualified companies and their skilled employees who participate in the construction of the clean energy marketplace. Read more in today’s Newsline.

 

President Biden Issues Executive Order to Raise the Minimum Wage to $15 for Federal Contractors:

On April 27, President Joe Biden issued an executive order increasing the minimum wage for federal contractors, which would require federal contractors to pay a $15 minimum wage to workers working on or in connection with a federal government contract. Read more.

 

Register for the 2021 ABC Virtual Legal Conference on Thursday, June 24:

Join ABC leaders, legal and regulatory experts and government officials as they share the latest developments in labor and employment law and their impact on merit shop contractors. Learn more about the seven content-rich virtual sessions!

 

May 18 Webinar:  Marijuana Legalization: What Employers Need to Know:

Several states have enacted laws that protect employees who use marijuana outside of work and limit employers’ ability to take adverse action based on marijuana use.

Maury Baskin and Nancy Delogu of Littler Mendelson P.C., will present an overview of these new rules, employer’s rights and obligations in each state, employers’ drug testing policies and practices and recommended management actions. Learn more.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: WH Sign-on Letter, ABC Priority Issues for Biden's First 100 Days, ETS Standard

Action Needed—Sign on Letter to White House:

ABC is urging member companies to sign on to a letter to the administration highlighting concerns with President Biden’s American Jobs Plan and recommendations for improvements to assist the construction industry, including opposition to the PRO Act, eliminating burdensome regulations, streamlining the permitting process, and supporting bipartisan workforce development efforts. We will be keeping the letter open this week to allow more time for sign-ons. You may view the letter and sign on here.

 

Biden’s First 100 Days—Impacts on Merit Shop Contractors:

From supporting the Protecting the Right to Organize Act to rolling back Trump-era regulatory actions, the Biden administration got off to a fast start delivering on its election-year promises to unions. ABC has mobilized to protect merit shop construction and provide members with status and updates on key policy actions. Get the latest on project labor agreement mandates, right-to-work laws, the independent contractor rule and more in ABC’s comprehensive analysis.
 

OSHA Sends Draft COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard to OMB for Review:

On April 27, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration sent a draft OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget for review. The review at OIRA is usually the final step in the process before a rule is officially published, which could take up to two weeks. At this time, neither OIRA nor DOL have made the content of the ETS public, but ABC has requested a meeting with OIRA to discuss its concerns with an OSHA COVID-19 ETS. Read more.

 

REMINDER--PRO Act and FOCA Paycheck Stuffers:

Paycheck stuffers highlighting the PRO Act and Fair and Open Competition are now available for ABC staff and members to utilize.  Both copies may be viewed and printed here and are also available on national connections via FEA.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: WH Sign-on Letter, Tariff Sign-on Letter, Biden Labor Nominees, DOL Covid Worker Protections, and Reminders

Action Needed—Sign on Letter to White House:

ABC is urging chapters and member companies to sign on to a letter to the administration highlighting concerns with President Biden’s American Jobs Plan and recommendations for improvements to assist the construction industry, including opposition to the PRO Act, eliminating burdensome regulations, streamlining the permitting process, and supporting bipartisan workforce development efforts. We will be keeping the letter open until early next week to allow more time for sign-ons. You may view the letter and sign on here.
 

We have approximately 400 signatures to the letter and most Chapters have signed on. We could really use some of our member companies in the President’s home state of Delaware signing on, along with more member companies from the Carolinas, Louisiana, Indiana, Arizona, West Virginia, Virginia, Wisconsin, Maine, and Alaska.

 

Labor Nominees Face Push Back from Republicans:

The Biden administration’s nominees for the government’s two most powerful workplace attorneys—Jennifer Abruzzo, for National Labor Relations Board general counsel, and Seema Nanda, for Labor Department solicitor—testified before the Senate HELP Committee yesterday on their nominations. Republican members of the Senate raised concerns about the duo’s partisan views in filling these apolitical legal posts. You can view a replay of the hearing and the nominees’ testimony here. And the ABC led Coalition for a Democratic Workplace released a statement on Abruzzo’s confirmation hearing yesterday as well, stating in part:

“As a hired gun heading up “strategic initiatives” for one of the country’s most powerful unions, we can expect Jennifer Abruzzo will be another planted ally at the NLRB to enable unions’ assault against small business employers and will turn a blind eye to their misleading and intimidation tactics against workers across the country.”

The Committee’s top Republican Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) repeatedly criticized what he described as the pair’s partisan motives, grilling Abruzzo in relation to Biden’s first-day firing of the Trump-appointed NLRB general counsel, and Nanda over her past work at the Democratic National Committee and controversial tweets.

 

Tariff Sign On Letter:

The Coalition for American Metal Manufacturers and Users is circulating a sign on letter to President Biden about the Section 232 tariffs for companies to sign on. There will be a later letter for associations and chapters. Companies can view the letter and sign on here.

 

DOL Launches COVID-19 Worker Protections Resource Page:

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division launched its Essential Workers – Essential Protections initiative to provide resources and offer information on common issues that employers and employees face during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the DOL website, WHD’s initiative offers information on the federal laws, including the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act, that provide critical worker protections regarding wages and hours worked and job-protected leave during the pandemic.

Additionally, WHD is offering various training opportunities for workers and employers on these workplace protections through the Essential Workers – Essential Protections initiative.

More information on these protections and other COVID-19 resources can be found on the DOL website and at abc.org/coronavirus.

 

REMINDER--PRO Act and FOCA Paycheck Stuffers:

Paycheck stuffers highlighting the PRO Act and Fair and Open Competition are now available for members to utilize.  Both copies may be viewed and printed here and are also available on national connections via FEA.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: WH Infrastructure Letter, PRO Act & FOCA Paycheck Stuffers, Biden Joint Address, Water Infrastructure, Biden First 100 Days

Action Needed—Sign on Letter to White House on Infrastructure:

ABC is urging member companies to sign on to a letter to the administration highlighting concerns with President Biden’s American Jobs Plan and recommendations for improvements to assist the construction industry. You may view the letter and sign on here, and we plan the close the letter tonight.

We have over 300 signatures to the letter and most Chapters have signed on. We could really use some of our member companies in the President’s home state of Delaware signing on, along with more member companies from South Carolina, Louisiana, Indiana, Arizona, West Virginia, Virginia, Wisconsin, Maine, and Alaska.

 

REMINDER--PRO Act and FOCA Paycheck Stuffers:

Paycheck stuffers highlighting the PRO Act and Fair and Open Competition are now available for ABC staff and members to utilize.  Both copies may be viewed and printed here and are also available on national connections via FEA.

 

Biden Joint Address Calls for PRO Act, $4 Trillion in Spending:

President Biden on Wednesday called for the passage of the ABC-opposed PRO Act during his first address before a joint session of Congress. The legislation, which is the top priority of labor unions, remains stalled in the Senate. Please see ABC VP Ben Brubeck’s op-ed on the President’s push for PRO Act and infrastructure plan to share with members here.

"The American Jobs Plan is a blue-collar blueprint to build America, that’s what it says. And, it recognizes something I’ve always said. The guys and women on Wall Street, Wall Street didn’t build this country. The middle class built this country. And unions build the middle class," Biden said. "And that’s why I’m calling on Congress to pass the Protect the Right to Organize Act, the PRO Act, and send it to my desk to support the right to unionize.” Watch the clip.

 
   

Biden also pitched his plan to raise taxes to help cover the roughly $4 trillion in additional federal spending he is proposing. ABC released a statement on the administration’s most recent call to increase capital gains and the top tax-rate for Americans. Additionally, ABC’s coalition on small business tax policy, Parity for Main Street Employers, released a statement criticizing the tax proposal as well.

In some promising developments from the administration, President Biden said he welcomed Republican ideas on his infrastructure and antipoverty proposals and would continue to meet with members of the opposing party in the Oval Office. He also called on Republicans to work with Democrats to find a consensus on overhauling police practices, stopping short of endorsing the partisan House-passed legislation from earlier this year.

The president also called on Congress to pass the immigration proposal he released on his first day in office, which would create a pathway to citizenship for the approximately 11 million people who entered the country illegally, overstayed visas or have obtained temporary protection from deportation, but doesn’t include the increased border security that Republicans have sought in exchange for legalization. ABC has raised concerns over the President’s proposal as well, for its lack of law enforcement and failure to address construction industry’s need for access to a foreign workforce to fill critical jobs.


Senate to Pass Bipartisan Bill Funding Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Investments:

The Senate will vote today on S. 914, the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act (DWWIA) of 2021. Before the bill’s passage, ABC sent a letter of support urging U.S. Senators to support the bipartisan legislation.

DWWIA would authorize an investment of more than $35 billion in drinking water and wastewater infrastructure projects across the country that focus on upgrading aging infrastructure. The legislation includes nearly $30 billion in funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund (CWSRF) and the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund (DWSRF) and an additional $6 billion in grant funding over 5 years.

Last December, Congress included the 2020 WRDA bill in the omnibus, but notably did not include any titles related to drinking water and clean water infrastructure. DWWIA builds upon legislation previously reported by the Committee on Environment and Public Works in 2020 under Republican leadership, which passed by a vote of 21-0. In 2021, the EPW committee again favorably reported S.914 by a unanimous vote on April 14.

In the letter to Senators, ABC raised concerns that these funds would apply federal Davis-Bacon Act requirements to federal and non-federally funded projects - decreasing the value to taxpayers while not applying any restriction to size of the project and without requiring the Department of Labor to improve its ongoing wage determination issues. The Obama Administration’s implementation of the EPA’s Fiscal Year 2012 Appropriations affecting the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Programs added Davis-Bacon wage requirements to the programs.

Additionally, before passage, ABC highlighted that the flawed and inflationary wage determination process increases the cost of construction and can have chilling impact on competition, particularly for small and minority-owned businesses to the EPW Committee.

However, ABC is encouraged by the bipartisan nature of the bill, as we continue to encourage lawmakers to promote a fair and open competitive procurement process free from ABC-opposed project labor agreement mandates, as this bill is.

 

Biden’s First 100 Days: Impacts on Merit Shop Contractors:

From supporting the Protecting the Right to Organize Act to rolling back Trump-era regulatory actions, the Biden administration got off to a fast start delivering on its election-year promises to unions. ABC has mobilized to protect merit shop construction and provide members with status and updates on key policy actions.

 

Get the latest on project labor agreement mandates, right-to-work laws, the independent contractor rule and more in ABC’s comprehensive analysis.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: WH Infrastructure Letter, EO on Worker Organizing, President Biden Address to Congress, Federal Contractor Min. Wage Increase, Grassroots Awards, and Reapportionment

Action Needed—Sign on Letter to White House on Infrastructure:

Tomorrow, President Biden will issue his first address to Congress and is expected to focus on his infrastructure plan and priorities for his $2+ trillion American Jobs Plan.

ABC is urging member companies to sign on to a letter to the administration highlighting concerns with President Biden’s American Jobs Plan and recommendations for improvements to assist the construction industry. You may view the letter and sign on here. 

 

PRO Act and FOCA Paycheck Stuffers:

Paycheck stuffers highlighting the PRO Act and Fair and Open Competition are now available for ABC members to utilize.  Both copies may be viewed and printed here and are also available on national connections via FEA.

 

President Biden Issues EO on Worker Organizing and Empowerment:

On April 26, President Joe Biden issued an executive order that establishes the Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment. ABC is concerned that the Biden administration is promoting policies that undermine workers’ choice whether to freely join a union, such as government-mandated project labor agreements.

 

According to the EO:

“The Task Force shall, within 180 days of the date of this order, submit to the President recommendations for actions as described in subsection (b) of this section to promote worker organizing and collective bargaining in the public and private sectors, and to increase union density. The Task Force may, at the Chair’s discretion, recommend appropriate or time-sensitive individual actions to promote worker organizing and collective bargaining before the deadline established by this section. The Task Force and its members shall work to implement all recommendations that the President may approve, to the extent permitted by law, and shall report their progress as directed by the Chair.”  

 

This reduces competition for small, women and minority businesses and workers and increases construction costs by 12%-20%, resulting in fewer jobs and improvements to America’s infrastructure. The Biden administration is also a strong supporter of the ABC-opposed Protecting the Right to Organize Act, which undermines a worker’s right to a secret ballot in a workplace election and eliminates worker choice by repealing 27 state right-to-work laws that prohibit compulsory union membership in order to work.

 

Construction industry employers and employees should be watching the task force’s recommendations closely for its support of additional policies that will also increase costs to taxpayers, eliminate opportunities for small businesses, discriminate against nonunion workers and undermine America’s economic resilience and competitive edge in the global economy.

 

Vice President Kamala Harris chairs the task force, which includes the heads of several federal agencies.

 

Biden Joint Address Tomorrow:

Tomorrow, President Biden will address a joint session of Congress. While it is expected that the President will make a push for his American Jobs Plan to support infrastructure, a large part of his address will be the unveiling of the second half of his plan, the “American Family Plan”, which is set to focus on childcare, paid family leave, and other social welfare issues, where the first portion was centered on infrastructure. The price tag is expected to be at least $1.5 trillion but the details of Biden’s address are still being finalized and House and Senate Democrats are involved in a last-minute lobbying blitz to try to sway the White House on what to include in the package. The plan is also expected to include pay-fors that could include tax increases for pass-through businesses and the top individual rate.

House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richie Neal (D-Mass.) also proposed a discussion draft on legislation that could play into the Biden plan. The Chairman’s “Building an Economy for Families Act” would create a new mandatory paid leave program, giving up to 12 weeks paid family and medical leave for all workers, and seeks to permanently extend three tax credits included in the American Rescue Plan passed by Congress: a child tax credit of up to $3,600 per child; an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit; and the Child and Dependent Care Credit of up to $8,000 for one child, $16,000 for two or more.

 

White House Raises Minimum Wage for Federal Contractors:

Today, the President issued an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors to $15. The current minimum wage for federal contractors is $10.95 per hour, and the increase to $15 will be a pay hike for roughly 700,000 federal contractors covered under this order. The new wage will come into effect next year and is indexed to inflation.

 

U.S. Census Reapportionment:

Yesterday, the U.S. Census Bureau announced its once-in-a-decade reapportionment totals, which will result in new congressional districts and electoral votes upon certain states while taking them away from others. In total, seven districts will move from one state to another, based upon population shifts. Those states gaining seats are: Texas +2, Colorado +1, Florida +1, Montana +1, North Carolina +1, and Oregon +1. While those losing seats are: California -1, Illinois -1, Michigan -1, New York -1, Ohio -1, Pennsylvania -1, West Virginia -1.

 

While Republican led states saw a greater increase, which could boost Republican chances of recapturing the U.S. House of Representatives from Democrats in next year’s midterm elections, the new congressional district maps won’t be redrawn until later this year, at the earliest. State legislators and independent commissions will decide how redistricting is done, and Republicans could lose seats in Democratic led states like New York and Illinois.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: Republicans Release Infrastructure Framework

Action Needed—Sign on Letter to White House on Infrastructure:

Yesterday, Republicans in the Senate introduced their infrastructure framework in an effort to pursue bipartisan negotiations with Democrats on a massive infrastructure package. ABC commented on the new framework, which would allocate $568 billion towards traditional infrastructure.

As the president continues to hold infrastructure talks with key members of Congress, ABC is urging chapters and member companies to sign on to a letter to the administration highlighting concerns with President Biden’s American Jobs Plan and recommendations for improvements to assist the construction industry. You may view the letter and sign on here. We plan the close the letter out by Wednesday of next week so please reach out with any questions or concerns.

 

REMINDER: EEOC to Open EEO-1 Component 1 Data Collection for 2019 and 2020 on April 26

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced that the 2019 and 2020 EEO-1 Component 1 data collection will open this Monday, April 26, 2021, and the deadline for filing this data will be Monday, July 19, 2021.

According to an EEOC news release, the EEO-1 Component 1 collects workforce data from employers with 100 or more employees and federal contractors with 50 or more employees. When the collection opens, resources to assist filers with their submissions will be available on a new dedicated website for the EEOC’s data collections.

More information on EEO-1 Component 1 data and other EEO data collections can be found on the EEOC website.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: Action Needed on Infrastructure, Tax Credit for Small Biz, & OSHA FAQs

Action Needed—Sign on Letter to White House on Infrastructure:

 

As the president continues to hold infrastructure talks with key members of Congress, ABC is urging chapters and member companies to sign on to a letter to the administration highlighting concerns with President Biden’s American Jobs Plan and recommendations for improvements to assist the construction industry. You may view the letter and sign on here. We plan the close the letter out by Wednesday of next week so please reach out with any questions or concerns.

 

White House Announces Tax Credit for Small Businesses That Provide Paid Time Off for COVID-19 Vaccinations:

 

On April 21, President Joe Biden encouraged every employer to take steps to get their employees vaccinated. He also announced a paid leave tax credit under the American Rescue Plan Act (H.R. 1319) that will help offset the cost for eligible employers to provide full pay for any time their employees need to get a COVID-19 vaccination or recover from that vaccination.

 

Businesses with fewer than 500 employees will get reimbursed for any paid time off they provide to employees — up to $511 per day per employee. Guidance for small businesses on the tax credit is available on the IRS website. More information can be found in the White House and U.S. Department of the Treasury press releases.

 

OSHA Issues New FAQs on Recording Illnesses Caused by Required and Recommended COVID-19 Vaccinations

 

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently posted new Frequently Asked Questions on recording illnesses caused by required and recommended COVID-19 vaccinations. Read more.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: Action Needed on Infrastructure, CDW Statement on Manchin, DOL & PPE Guidance

ABC MEMBER AND CHAPTER ACTION NEEDED - Sign on Letter to White House on Infrastructure:

As the president continues to hold infrastructure talks with key members of Congress, ABC is urging chapters and member companies to sign on to a letter to the administration highlighting concerns with President Biden’s American Jobs Plan and recommendations for improvements to assist the construction industry. You may view the letter and sign on here. Please send this to ABC Members who are interested in joining this effort. We plan the close the letter out by Wednesday of next week so please reach out with any questions or concerns.

 

CDW Statement on Manchin PRO Act Support:

Following the announcement from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) that he would be cosponsoring the ABC-opposed PRO Act, the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace and Chair Kristen Swearingen put out a statement which may be viewed here.
 

With Sen. Manchin’s support leaves only 3 Democratic Senators currently not supporting the legislation: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.). It is critical that members continue to contact these offices to urge their opposition to the bill, as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has pledged to hold a floor vote on the bill if it obtains 50 cosponsors in the Senate. You can contact your Senators on the PRO Act with ABC’s Action Alert.
 

ABC’s Pennsylvania Chapter also put together a template letter for other state chapters to use to contact their U.S. Representatives and Senators to oppose the PRO Act. You can also download a word version of the template here and work with your members to get local signatures.

 

DOL Issues Guidance on the American Rescue Plan Act COBRA Subsidy

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act that contains a new, temporary COBRA subsidy. From April 1, 2021 through September 31, 2021, the ARPA requires employers to cover 100% of an employee’s cost of continuing group health coverage under COBRA if the employee was eligible for COBRA continuation coverage during the indicated period regardless of whether the employee may not have previously elected coverage or discontinued coverage. Employers that provide such paid coverage may recover the cost through deductions on quarterly payroll filings. On April 7, 2021, the Department of Labor released answers to frequently asked questions related to the ARPA COBRA subsidy and published model notices for use with the ARPA COBRA subsidy. Read the Littler Mendelson article to learn more.

Also, the DOL will be offering a compliance webcast on April 26 regarding COBRA premium assistance under ARPA. Learn more about the DOL webcast.

 

Recent Updates to CDC N95 Guidance—What Employers Need to Know:

On April 9, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its “Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of N95 Respirators.” The update includes changes to respirator-provision strategies at Conventional Capacity, Contingency Capacity (periods of expected N95 shortages), and Crisis Capacity (periods of known N95 shortages). Employers required to provide respirators as personal protective equipment should review the updated guidance for any changes that may impact their PPE strategies. Read the Littler Mendelson article to learn more.  

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: Infrastructure Update (From Friday, 4/16)

Infrastructure Update:

While President Biden held talks with bipartisan groups of lawmakers this week on infrastructure, Republicans and Democratic moderates in the Senate have also suggested an infrastructure plan that could range from $600 billion to $800 billion, a significant reductions from Biden's $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan, and would focus on traditional infrastructure in their proposal. Additionally, The GOP's plan would eliminate Biden’s proposed lifting of the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21%, along with other tax increases, and would instead be financed with "user fees," such as taxes on vehicle mileage traveled, which House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-Mo.) has signaled his support for, or an increase to the gas tax.

However, key Democratic Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) indicated on Thursday that he isn’t ready to settle on an $800 billion target for infrastructure spending. “We’re going to do whatever it takes. If it takes $4 trillion, I’d do $4 trillion but we have to pay for it,” he said.

Rep. Garrett Graves also introduced the ABC-supported BUILDER Act, which would modernize the NEPA permitting process. ABC’s statement made the “What they are saying” in the Committee’s press release here. Additionally, Rep. Budd’s FOCA sign-on letter along with 25 other signatures from House Republicans was sent to House T&I Committee leadership on Wednesday, and the House FOCA bill is up to 52 cosponsors in the House and 6 cosponsors in the Senate.  

A group of Democratic U.S. House Reps. also signed a letter demanding that a repeal of the $10,000 cap of the state and local tax (SALT) deduction in legislation based on President Biden's infrastructure proposal. With only a 218-212 majority for Democrats in the House, the SALT issue could cause problems in passing legislation out of the lower chamber.

 

ABC Opposes DOL’s Proposals to Rescind Trump-era Independent Contractor and Joint Employer Rules:

On April 12, ABC submitted comments in opposition to proposals from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division to rescind the Trump-era independent contractor and joint employer final rules. Read ABC’s comment letters.

 

ABC Launches COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit:

ABC has launched a COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit as part of the Coronavirus Update webpage to help inform and educate members about the latest available resources and information on the COVID-19 vaccine. Learn more about the toolkit.

 

REMINDER – COVID-19 Related Tax Credits for Paid Leave Extended to Sept. 30:

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed H.R. 1319, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which extends tax credits for private employers with 499 or fewer U.S. employees that voluntarily decide to provide emergency paid sick and/or family leave according to the otherwise-expired standards in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act’s Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Emergency Family Medical Leave Expansion Act. Tax credits apply to qualifying leave taken from April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021. Read the Littler Mendelson article to learn more. Also, visit the IRS for more information.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: Manchin Supports PRO Act

Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) Supports PRO Act:

Today, at an event with the National Press Club, Democratic U.S. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia said he is co-sponsoring the ABC-opposed PRO Act, claiming it will "level the playing field" for union workers, adding he wants to work with both parties to move it through the "legislative process." Sen. Angus King of Maine also added his name as a cosponsor to the bill on April 15.

Manchin’s support leaves only 3 Democratic Senators currently not supporting the legislation: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.). It is critical that members continue to contact these offices to urge their opposition to the bill, as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has pledged to hold a floor vote on the bill if it obtains 50 cosponsors in the Senate. You can contact your Senators on the PRO Act with ABC’s Action Alert.
 

ABC’s Pennsylvania Chapter also put together a template letter for other state chapters to use to contact their U.S. Representatives and Senators to oppose the PRO Act. You can also download a word version of the template here and work with your members to get local signatures.

 

Union Claims Illegal Interference in Amazon Union Election:

On Friday, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union filed objections to the National Labor Relations Board, accusing Amazon of illegally interfering in the union campaign held earlier this month at the company’s warehouse in Alabama where employees overwhelmingly rejected unionization. Amazon spokeswoman Heather Knox said in a statement: “The fact is that less than 16% of employees at BHM1 voted to join a union. Rather than accepting these employees’ choice, the union seems determined to continue misrepresenting the facts in order to drive its own agenda. We look forward to the next steps in the legal process.”

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: Infrastructure Talks, Senate Filibuster, and Amazon Vote

House and Senate Return Amid Infrastructure Talks:

The House returns tomorrow evening for votes, and the Senate returns at 3 p.m. today following their two week recess, and the focus continues to be on the president’s spending/infrastructure package. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has stated that she is focused on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee finishing up its work on the spending package in May to hit a July 4 deadline for passage of the bill on the House floor.

 

Earlier today, the Biden administration met with Republicans and Democrats from the Senate: Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.); and the House: Reps. Garret Graves (R-La.), Donald Payne, Jr. (D-N.J.), David Price (D-N.C.) and Don Young (R-Alaska). Many Republicans see this meeting is an optics move to show an attempt at bipartisan negotiations, as Republican’s have expressed serious concerns about the plan’s $2.5 trillion cost and provisions that go beyond the scope of traditional infrastructure. 

ABC has also expressed similar concerns and is working with House and Senate Committees to modify the proposal to reflect the needs of the construction industry and the nation’s infrastructure.

 

Manchin and Sinema Continue Defense of Senate Filibuster:

While the White House is making overtures to Republicans in Congress, it seems unlikely that a bipartisan deal can be struck on the multi-trillion dollar spending bill, making a reconciliation package the most likely path forward as key Democratic Senators continue to defend the Senate filibuster.

Joe Manchin (D-WV): On April 7, the Washington Post published an op-ed by Sen. Manchin in which he unequivocally defends the filibuster, saying, “There is no circumstance in which I will vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster.” He goes on, “Working legislation through regular order in the Senate prevents drastic swings in federal policymaking… If the filibuster is eliminated or budget reconciliation becomes the norm, a new and dangerous precedent will be set to pass sweeping, partisan legislation that changes the direction of our nation every time there is a change in political control. The consequences will be profound — our nation may never see stable governing again.”

Kirsten Sinema (D-AZ): After two constituent events in Arizona, Sen. Sinema once again defended the filibuster. She said, “When you have a place that’s broken and not working, and many would say that’s the Senate today, I don’t think the solution is to erode the rules. I think the solution is for senators to change their behavior and begin to work together, which is what the country wants us to do.”

 

Amazon Vote and PRO Act:

Last week, Amazon tallied votes from workers who overwhelmingly voted against unionization at their Alabama facility. The final vote was 1798-738 with only 55% voter turnout. Unions are already setting the stage for passage of the PRO Act, arguing Amazon engaged in illegal activity to bust the union proving that the PRO Act is needed to protect workers’ right to organize. The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace is pushing back on that narrative and a statement on the results can be read here.

Labor Organizations last week also held a “National Day of Action” on the PRO Act on April 8. Labor organizations around the country, led by the AFL-CIO, the National Day of Action encouraged members and the public to contact their Senators and tell them to cosponsor and pass the bill. They also organized numerous events around the country on the bill. CDW’s statement on the day of action can be read here.

 

Action Needed—Sign on PLA Letter in the House:

Rep. Ted Budd, sponsor of the Fair and Open Competition Act (H.R. 1284) in the U.S. House is circulating a letter for colleagues to sign on to in opposition to government mandated PLAs on any infrastructure package. ABC encourages members to reach out to their U.S. Reps. and urge them sign on to the letter. President Biden’s infrastructure plan specifically calls for Congress to tie federal investments in infrastructure to project labor agreements.

Learn more about the Fair and Open Competition Act at FreeEnterpriseAlliance.org/FOCA.  

Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) authored a similar letter to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee calling for fair and open competition in any reauthorization of the federal surface transportation bill. Sen. Young is also the lead sponsor of the Senate’s Fair and Open Competition Act (S. 403).

 

ABC Members Only Webinar:  COVID-19 Vaccine—Legal and Practical Considerations for Employers:

 

April 15 at 3 p.m. ET

Speaker: Maury Baskin, Littler Mendelson P.C.

Now that COVID-19 vaccines are more widely available throughout the nation, employers must be prepared to navigate the constantly evolving legal landscape and unique employee relations issues tied to vaccination programs in the employment setting. Read more about the important topics that will be discussed and register here.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: LegCon Update, PLA Action Needed, PRO Act Update, Parliamentarian Ruling, and ABC Webinar

Legislative Conference Update:

As you may have seen, ABC Legislative Conference has a new date and location. Due to restrictions on gatherings in Washington, D.C. and congressional offices, the conference has been rescheduled for June 2-4 at the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort and Spa in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, outside of Jacksonville. More information on the conference agenda and registration to come, and ABC’s Government Affairs team will also be providing additional information on cheat sheets and legislative priorities for Congress in the coming weeks and will send updates in later emails. Please feel free to reach out with any questions until then.

 

Action Needed—Sign on PLA Letter in the House:

Rep. Ted Budd, sponsor of the Fair and Open Competition Act (H.R. 1284) in the U.S. House is circulating a letter for colleagues to sign on to in opposition to government mandated PLAs on any infrastructure package. ABC encourages members to reach out to their U.S. Reps. and urge them sign on to the letter. President Biden’s infrastructure plan specifically calls for Congress to tie federal investments in infrastructure to project labor agreements.

Learn more about the Fair and Open Competition Act at FreeEnterpriseAlliance.org/FOCA.  

Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) authored a similar letter to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee calling for fair and open competition in any reauthorization of the federal surface transportation bill. Sen. Young is also the lead sponsor of the Senate’s Fair and Open Competition Act (S. 403).

 

PRO Act Update:

On March 31, the Biden administration released a more than $2 trillion infrastructure outline titled the “American Jobs Plan.” Additional information on the plan and ABC’s response can be viewed on Newsline here: Biden Infrastructure Plan Rife With ABC-opposed Labor Policies. President Biden calls for the passage of the PRO Act as part of his plan and support for infrastructure jobs.

According to ABC’s Maine Chapter, Senator Angus King (I-Maine) recently agreed to sign on as a co-sponsor to the PRO Act, increasing the need to ensure that remaining four Democratic Senators currently not supporting the legislation stay off the bill: Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va), Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.). Additionally, we are hearing that just because some Democrats have co-sponsored the legislation, doesn’t mean they are fully endorsing the PRO Act as written, and a handful of Democratic Senators who are co-sponsors have concerns about the bill. It is critical that members continue to contact these offices to urge their opposition to the bill. You can contact your Senators on the PRO Act with ABC’s Action Alert.

ABC’s Pennsylvania Chapter also put together a template letter for other state chapters to use to contact their U.S. Representatives and Senators to oppose the PRO Act. You can also download a word version of the template here and work with your members to get local signatures.

 

Parliamentarian Ruling and Prospects for Infrastructure Package:

The Senate Parliamentarian ruled that Section 304 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 can allow for multiple reconciliation bills per fiscal year, providing Democrats with additional opportunities to use the budget reconciliation process to push forward their legislative priorities and avoid the filibuster in the Senate. In a statement from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office:

"The Parliamentarian has advised that a revised budget resolution may contain budget reconciliation instructions. This confirms the Leader's interpretation of the Budget Act and allows Democrats additional tools to improve the lives of Americans if Republican obstruction continues,” a spokesman for Schumer said. “While no decisions have been made on a legislative path forward using Section 304 and some parameters still need to be worked out, the Parliamentarian's opinion is an important step forward that this key pathway is available to Democrats if needed." 

With Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell pledging to oppose the president’s jobs and infrastructure package, without substantially revising the plan to gain at least 10 Republican votes, it seems likely that Democrats will pursue the reconciliation process to pass the more than $2 trillion American Jobs Plan. With this new ruling, Democrats could now use reconciliation to pursue other proposals, which could include the president’s “human infrastructure” investment that is set for release later this month and will call for more federal spending and potential additional tax increases on businesses and individuals.

However, Democrats still need 50 votes to support any spending package, and Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), a critical vote for Senate Dems, has already come out to criticize the president’s infrastructure plan for steep tax increases. Yesterday, Manchin said that the Biden administration's American Jobs Plan can't pass in its current form because he and a handful of other Senate Democrats believe the corporate tax hikes proposed in the bill -- designed to offset its costs -- are too steep. Manchin said he is against raising the current 21% corporate tax rate to 28% as called for in the president’s plan and instead supports a middle ground 25% rate, which he called "fair."

 

ABC Members Only Webinar:  COVID-19 Vaccine—Legal and Practical Considerations for Employers:

April 15 at 3 p.m. ET

Speaker: Maury Baskin, Littler Mendelson P.C.

Now that COVID-19 vaccines are more widely available throughout the nation, employers must be prepared to navigate the constantly evolving legal landscape and unique employee relations issues tied to vaccination programs in the employment setting. Read more about the important topics that will be discussed and register here.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: PRO Act, Infrastructure, and Paycheck Fairness Act

State Led Efforts to Oppose the PRO Act:

ABC’s Pennsylvania Chapter put together a template letter for other state chapters to use to contact their U.S. Representatives and Senators to oppose the PRO Act. You can also download a word version of the template here and work with your members to get local signatures.

 

U.S. Senate PRO Act Update:

According to ABC’s Maine Chapter, Senator Angus King (I-Maine) has agreed to sign on as a co-sponsor to the PRO Act, increasing the need to ensure that remaining four Democratic Senators currently not supporting the legislation stay off the bill: Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va), Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.). Additionally, we are hearing that just because some Democrats have co-sponsored the legislation, doesn’t mean they are fully endorsing the PRO Act as written, and a handful of Democratic Senators who are co-sponsors have concerns about the bill. It is critical that members continue to contact these offices to urge their opposition to the bill. You can contact your Senators on the PRO Act with ABC’s Action Alert.


CDW has also set up a grassroots toolkit for ABC Chapters and members to use to help educate policymakers about the bill. The toolkit includes a fact sheet on the bill, video explaining the worst provisions of the legislation, provision summary, and a sample letter you can send to Congress.


Below is also a list of current op-eds on the PRO Act from ABC and members of Congress, and more info on the PRO Act at PRO Act - Free Enterprise Alliance:

 

REMINDER – ABC Responds to Biden’s Infrastructure Plan That is Rife With ABC-opposed Labor Policies:

On March 31, the Biden administration released a more than $2 trillion infrastructure outline titled the “American Jobs Plan.” Additional information on the plan and ABC’s response can be viewed on Newsline here: Biden Infrastructure Plan Rife With ABC-opposed Labor Policies.

 

TAKE ACTION - House Letter Emulating Sen. Young-Led FOCA/PLA Letter to Senate Committee:

This week, Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) was joined by seven of his senate colleagues in a letter to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee calling for fair and open competition in any reauthorization of the federal surface transportation bill. Sen. Young is also the lead sponsor of the Senate’s Fair and Open Competition Act (S. 403).

President Biden’s American Jobs Plan specifically calls for Congress to tie federal investments in infrastructure to project labor agreements and other anti-competitive measures.

In a similar effort to Sen. Young, Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) is circulating a sign-on letter seeking support from his U.S. House of Representatives colleagues to support fair and open competition and in opposition to government mandated PLAs on any infrastructure package. ABC encourages members to reach out to their U.S. Reps. and urge them to sign on to the letter. ABC is also urging members of the House to join 43 of their colleagues as cosponsors of H.R. 1284, the Fair and Open Competition Act.

Learn more about the Fair and Open Competition Act at FreeEnterpriseAlliance.org/FOCA.  

 

U.S. House Tees Up Vote for Paycheck Fairness Act:

When the House returns from recess on April 13th, it is expected that they will be debating and passing the Paycheck Fairness Act. ABC has consistently opposed this legislation’s unprecedented government intervention into the workplace that could have devastating effects on how workers in the construction industry are paid.

In the 116th Congress, Republicans introduced an alternative gender pay parity bill, modeled on bipartisan legislation that Republican governors in Massachusetts, Vermont and Maryland have signed into law that focus on closing the wage gap between men and women.

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: Biden $2 Trillion Stimulus Plan Rife With ABC-Opposed Labor Policies

ABC Responds to Biden’s Infrastructure Plan That Is Rife With ABC-opposed Labor Policies:

On March 31, the Biden administration released a more than $2 trillion infrastructure outline titled the “American Jobs Plan.” While the plan calls for federal spending over the next eight years to improve the nation’s infrastructure, including for transportation, broadband, energy, and drinking water, it also includes funding for schools and child-care facilities, affordable housing, workforce development and manufacturing.

Watch the President Biden’s remarks at a union training facility in Pittsburgh here.

Importantly, the Biden plan calls on Congress “to ensure all workers have a free and fair choice to join a union by passing the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, and guarantee union and bargaining rights for public service workers.” The ABC-opposed PRO Act threatens the fundamental rights of workers and job creators while putting the recovery of our economy at risk.

Biden’s plan also urges Congress to tie infrastructure investments funded under this plan to ABC-opposed government-mandated project labor agreements/community workforce agreements, prevailing wage regulations via the archaic Davis-Bacon Act and registered apprenticeship programs. All of these policies are likely to increase costs, reduce job creation, decrease the number of infrastructure projects and discourage ABC members and their skilled local workforce from competing for taxpayer-funded construction projects to rebuild their own communities.

 

Transportation Infrastructure:

While the plan allocates $621 billion for “transportation infrastructure,” a large portion of this funding ($174 billion) is for investment in spurring the electric-vehicle market, and an additional $165 billion is dedicated to repairing public transit vehicles and freight rail, leaving approximately only $282 billion for the nation’s roads and bridges—a fraction of what is needed to truly modernize our nation’s transportation infrastructure.

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the United States has a $786 billion backlog of road and bridge capital needs, including $435 billion in repairing existing roads, $125 billion for bridge repair, $120 billion for targeted system expansion and $105 billion for safety enhancements, operational improvements and environmental projects.

 

Additionally, the plan says nothing about reauthorizing the expiring surface transportation legislation or shoring up the Highway Trust Fund in the future.

 

Additional Provisions in the Biden Plan:

  • $111 billion for safer drinking water, wastewater and stormwater systems.
  • $100 billion for high-speed broadband.
  • $100 billion to upgrade the U.S. power infrastructure.
  • $213 billion to “produce, preserve and retrofit more than two million affordable and sustainable places to live."
  • $137 billion for public schools, community colleges and childcare facilities.
  • $28 billion for veterans’ hospitals and federal buildings.
  • $400 billion for “expanding access to quality, affordable home- or community-based care for aging relatives and people with disabilities.”
  • $180 billion for research and development in new infrastructure technologies, climate science and innovation, and racial and gender inequalities in STEM and R&D
  • $300 billion for strengthening manufacturing in the United States and creating new manufacturing jobs.
  • $100 billion for workforce development, which provides $40 billion for a new dislocated-workers program to help workers gain new skills for in-demand jobs, $12 billion for targeting workers in underserved communities and $48 billion to expand existing registered apprenticeship, pre-apprenticeship and community college partnership programs. 

 

Biden’s plan focuses heavily on federal investments supporting prevailing wage rates, project labor agreements, community workforce agreements and registered apprenticeship programs, and calls for Congress to enact the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which implements a slew of costly, anti-small-business policies.

 

Tax Increases:

While the plan calls for spending to complete these projects over the next eight years, that includes tax increases that would take 15 years to cover the cost of the $2 trillion plan, including:

  • Increasing the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%.
  • Increasing the minimum tax on U.S. multinational corporations to 21% and calculating it on a country-by-country basis to target profits in tax havens. 
  • Eliminating tax subsidies and tax credits for fossil fuel industries.
  • Beefed-up IRS enforcement on corporations.

 

ABC Responds:

In a statement from ABC President and CEO Michael Bellaman, ABC called for fair and open competition and bipartisan ideas the infrastructure plan.

“Our nation is in strong bipartisan agreement that America’s crumbling roads, bridges, schools and water, energy and transportation systems are in desperate need of modernization in order to accelerate our strong economic comeback and keep our country competitive in a global economy. ABC continues to advocate for any plan to modernize our nation’s infrastructure to include policies to reduce costly and ineffective regulations, ensure fair and open competition, address the construction industry’s skilled worker shortage, embrace new technology, and pursue value-adding, public-private partnerships that can help bring critical construction projects to market in a more economical and efficient manner. Unfortunately, much of the Biden plan ignores ABC’s infrastructure policy recommendations, while proposing tax increases on job-creating construction firms that are still recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

“While policy details are still emerging and the infrastructure plan will need to go through Congress, it is disappointing to see the Biden administration support the use of divisive government-mandated project labor agreement schemes on taxpayer-funded construction projects. Government-mandated PLAs exclude more than 87% of the U.S. construction workforce from rebuilding their communities and benefitting from well-paying middle-class jobs created by taxpayer investments in infrastructure. It also means taxpayers will spend 20% more per PLA project, which results in fewer infrastructure improvements and less job creation to help America rebound from the pandemic’s economic devastation. Coupled with a call for Congress to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, it is clear the Biden administration’s infrastructure plan is designed to help powerful donors and special interests instead of all Americans.

 

“It is difficult to support an infrastructure plan that excludes the 87% of the workforce that chooses not to join a union and promotes the PRO Act, which eliminates workers’ freedom to choose how to pursue their career dreams, places their personal information security at risk and legalizes intimidation and secondary boycotting against a company’s supply chain and customers.

 

“We encourage President Biden to work with Congress and stakeholders to pursue a bipartisan path forward that would efficiently and effectively modernize our infrastructure, drive economic growth, welcome every construction professional and deliver value to all taxpayers. ABC will continue to work with Congress and the Biden administration to improve the infrastructure plan.”

 

Outlook for Congressional Action:

Speaker Pelosi has stated her intention to bring legislation to the floor to enact the President’s plan by July 4 of this year. Even though the White House has expressed its desire to make the bill bipartisan, Republicans in Congress are already voicing opposition to the plan’s tax increases and significant spending. Additionally, the aggressive timeline proposed by the House means the bill is likely to head be done under budget reconciliation, leaving the Senate Parliamentarian with the task of removing extraneous provisions from any House passed legislation.

 

The President is also set to release part two of his spending proposal, focusing on social welfare, in approximately two weeks. It is possible that both proposals could be wrapped into one reconciliation bill before the end of the fiscal year to push for as much support from Democrats as possible. ABC will continue to provide updates on the progress of these proposals and our actions to work with Congress and the administration to remove provisions harmful to the merit shop construction industry.

 

Rita Hart Drops Challenge to Iowa Second District Election Results:

Rita Hart, a former Iowa state senator and the Democrat who lost a House race in Iowa by only six votes, is dropping her challenge to Republican Rep. Marianette Miller-Meeks’ six-vote victory. Hart said today that she is withdrawing her contest with the House Administration Committee. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi previously was supportive of the challenge in Iowa's second district and had been criticized by Republicans and a member of her own party, Representative Dean Phillips of Minnesota. Phillips said overturning the election would be "painful" for the country. 

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: White House Infrastructure Proposal and ABC Action Alert on FOCA/PLAs

White House to Unveil Infrastructure Proposal this Week:

This week, President Biden is expected to unveil his massive, multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure proposal this week while the House and the Senate are out of town for the next two weeks for Passover and Easter Recess. Biden’s proposal will separate into two pieces that he will release weeks apart. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Fox News Sunday that Biden will unveil the first part of his plan, focusing on items like rebuilding roads and railways, on Wednesday. The second part of Biden’s plan will include child-care and health-care reforms, and could also include paid leave and tuition free community college proposals — aspects of what is sometimes called social infrastructure — and will be released in “in just a couple of weeks,” she said.

 

In a hearing last week with the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg sketched out the administration’s broader goals on infrastructure and the President’s $3 trillion plan, while also focusing his remarks on union jobs and prevailing wage rates, stating, “Wise transportation investments are key to making the American Dream accessible for all, leading our global competitors in innovation, getting people and goods where they need to be, creating good jobs — jobs that are union or pay prevailing wages — and tackling our climate crisis.”

 

Today, Buttigeig also ruled out increasing in the federal gas tax or charging drivers a fee based on miles driven to pay for the Biden administration’s infrastructure plan.

 

While specific details of the measure are still unknown, it is widely expected to include a slew of tax hikes, including raising the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21%, increasing the income tax rate on individuals earning more than $400,000. According to a report from the Washington Post, the two-pronged package Biden will begin unveiling includes possibly as much as $4 trillion in new spending and more than $3 trillion in tax increases.

 

The tax increases will largely be seen as a non-starter for Republicans in Congress, which could result in Democrats passing infrastructure modernization through reconciliation to avoid the 60-vote threshold in the Senate.

 

ABC ACTION ALERT - Ask Your U.S. Senators to Sign-on to Senators Young and Scott-led FOCA/PLA Infrastructure Priority Letter:

As Congress turns its attention to a potential infrastructure package, Sens. Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) have introduced ABC’s priority infrastructure legislation, the Fair and Open Competition Act (S. 403), and are now asking for support from their fellow Senators.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, who will be crafting the next surface transportation reauthorization bill in the coming weeks and months, is now seeking recommendations on infrastructure policy priorities from U.S. Senators. The offices of Sens. Young and Scott are circulating a letter outlining strong opposition of government-mandated project labor agreements and enthusiastic support for a fair and open competitive bidding process on projects funded by the coming bill. 

 

Reach out to your Senators today asking them to sign-on to Sens. Young and Scott’s letter in support of FOCA and in opposition to government-mandated PLAs here: https://www.votervoice.net/ABC/campaigns/82953/respond

 

Learn more about the Fair and Open Competition Act at FreeEnterpriseAlliance.org/FOCA.  

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