ABC-VA Blog

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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ABC Beltway Blueprint: PPP Extended, Infrastructure Update, Walsh Sworn In, FOCA Reminder, and Info for ABC Members

Senate Passes PPP Extension:

This afternoon, the Senate passed the PPP Extension Act of 2021 by a vote of 92-7 to extend the Paycheck Protection Program before it expires at the end of this month. The bill now heads to the president’s desk for signature as the House previously passed the bill that will extend the program until May 31. Earlier this month, ABC joined a coalition of small business organizations in support of the bipartisan PPP Extension Act of 2021. According to the SBA more than $90 billion in funding remains available through the program.  

 

President Biden, Sen. Manchin, Sec. Buttigieg, and Infrastructure:

In his first press conference, President Biden emphasized his plans to boost vaccine distribution and his plans to tackle infrastructure in his next major spending plan. He also said he was open to changes in the filibuster to ease passage of Democratic priorities but didn’t say it should be ended. You can view his comments on infrastructure at the 51:54 mark and his comments on the importance of unions and uniting the country around 40:18.

Sen. Manchin said yesterday that he supports tax increases to pay for a massive infrastructure plan, indicating key support for a Democrat led multiple trillion dollar infrastructure proposal, and the U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg testified before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure to highlight the administration’s proposal for infrastructure modernization.

In today’s hearing, Sec. Buttigieg sketched out the administration’s broader goals on infrastructure and the President’s $3 trillion plan. His opening remarks also focused 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.”

In his opening remarks, Rep. Sam Graves (Mo.), the committee’s top Republican, said he stood ready to collaborate but there were limits on what members of his party were ready to support. “A transportation bill needs to be a transportation bill, not a Green New Deal,” he said. “It needs to be about roads and bridges.”

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.  

 

Mayor Marty Walsh Sworn in as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor

On March 23, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh was sworn in as secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor by Vice President Kamala Harris, becoming the first union member to serve in the role of secretary in nearly half a century. The Senate confirmed Walsh to serve as secretary in a 68-29 vote on March 22. Read more.

 

ABC Members: Provide Input on Proposed Code Changes at ICC’s Virtual Spring Committee Action Hearings

ABC members are invited to provide input on Group A Codes at the International Code Council’s 2021 Committee Action Hearings, which will be held virtually from April 11 through May 5. Read more.

 

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

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.

 

Feedback Requested for ABC Member Survey on COVID-19 Vaccinations

As COVID-19 vaccinations are becoming more widely available, ABC National is conducting a survey to gather member information to get a better sense of how employers plan to approach immunization in their workplaces. The information from this survey will assist ABC in formulating its position on COVID-19 vaccination in the workplace.

ABC National is asking that members fill out the survey by close of business on Friday, March 26.

https://abcnational.iad1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8AJBF91HMVSrPhQ

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: FOCA Action Alert, Biden Infrastructure Plan, Senate PPP Extension, and Walsh Confirmation

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.  

 

Biden Infrastructure Proposal Eyes Major Tax Increases:

Today the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal posted articles on potential proposals from the Biden administration to address infrastructure spending, the next big priority for the President and Democrats in Congress as they seek to aid the country’s recovery from the COVID pandemic. According to the reports, the White House is eying significant tax increases that would alter or repeal parts of the Republican passed tax law from 2017, including – raise the corporate rate from the current 21 percent to 28 percent, increase the global minimum tax from 13 percent to 21 percent, raise the top income rate from 37 percent to 39.6 percent, and end a number of fossil fuel tax subsidies currently in law.

While it is still unclear how Democrats in Congress plan to move forward with a proposal, whether through budget reconciliation or a bipartisan package, it is likely that Republicans and potentially some Senate Democrats would take issue with significant tax increases on individuals and businesses. The administration is also considering a number of other spending proposals that would include significant investments in clean energy developments and plans for paid leave, free community college, and other spending focused on individuals throughout the country.

 

Senate to Act on PPP Extension:

While the Senate is working to pass legislation to extend the Paycheck Protection Program before it expires at the end of this month, Sen. Marco Rubio, the Small Business Committee Ranking Member wants to revise the House-passed bill to restrict PPP eligibility. These changes would require the House to pass the bill again, but the House is out of town through the week.  

The House-passed bill, the PPP Extension Act of 2021, would extend the program until May 31. Earlier this month, ABC joined a coalition of small business organizations in support of the bipartisan PPP Extension Act of 2021. According to the SBA more than $90 billion in funding remains available through the program.  

 

Walsh Confirmed as Labor Secretary:

Last night, the Senate confirmed Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to serve as the U.S. Secretary of Labor in a 68-29 vote. You can view ABC’s statement on the new Labor Secretary here.

 

Feedback Requested for ABC Member Survey on COVID-19 Vaccinations

As COVID-19 vaccinations are becoming more widely available, ABC National is conducting a survey to gather member information to get a better sense of how employers plan to approach immunization in their workplaces. The information from this survey will assist ABC in formulating its position on COVID-19 vaccination in the workplace.

ABC National is asking that members fill out the survey by close of business on Friday, March 26.

https://abcnational.iad1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8AJBF91HMVSrPhQ

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: State Leg. PRO Act Letter, PPP Extension, Walsh Confirmation, Letlow Wins in Louisiana, and ABC Member Survey

State Legislators Ask Congress to Oppose the PRO Act:

The American Legislative Exchange Council, a policy partner of ABC National, is encouraging state legislators to respond to this letter urging opposition to the PRO Act. The letter outlines provisions of the PRO Act that are especially concerning to state lawmakers, such as preempting state right-to-work laws in the 27 states with such laws in place. ABC National encourages chapters to forward this letter onto their state lawmakers asking them to sign onto this effort opposing the PRO Act.

 

On March 9, the U.S House passed the PRO Act by a vote of 225-206, with five Republicans voting yes.

 

ABC has sent a Key Vote NO on PRO Act letter to U.S. Representatives to express concerns about the effect this legislation would have on a wide range of industries across the country. The PRO Act now faces the 60-vote threshold of the Senate, you can contact your Senators on the PRO Act with ABC’s Action Alert.

 

Senate to Act on PPP Extension:

The Senate, ahead of next week’s recess is under pressure to extend the Paycheck Protection Program before it expires at the end of this month, on the 31st. The House-passed bill, the PPP Extension Act of 2021, would extend the program until May 31. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has filed cloture on this legislation and plans to pass the measure ASAP.

Earlier this month, ABC joined a coalition of small business organizations in support of the bipartisan PPP Extension Act of 2021. According to the SBA more than $90 billion in funding remains available through the program.  

 

Walsh Set for Confirmation Vote:

The Senate is scheduled to pass additional presidential nominations this week, including President Joe Biden’s pick to lead the Labor Department, Marty Walsh -- the last outstanding cabinet nominee awaiting confirmation. The Senate, which got through Biden’s confirmations faster than it did for both the Obama and Trump administrations, is also poised to confirm five more nominations this week that Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has filed cloture on, including Shalanda Young for OMB Deputy Director, Vivek Murthy for Surgeon General, Rachel Levine for Assistant Secretary at HHS, David Turk for Deputy Energy Secretary, and Wally Adeyemo for Deputy Treasury Secretary.

 

Julia Letlow Wins in LA-5:

Louisiana Republican Julia Letlow won a special election Saturday to fill the seat in the 5th District won last year by her now-late husband, who died in December from Covid. She took 62 percent of the vote in the 12-way race, a commanding victory that cleared the majority threshold needed to avoid a runoff. Her election brings the number of Republican women in Congress to 31. Once she is sworn in, the House will have 212 Republicans and 220 Democrats with three vacancies. 
 

Feedback Requested for ABC Member Survey on COVID-19 Vaccinations

As COVID-19 vaccinations are becoming more widely available, ABC National is conducting a survey to gather member information to get a better sense of how employers plan to approach immunization in their workplaces. The information from this survey will assist ABC in formulating its position on COVID-19 vaccination in the workplace.

ABC National is asking that members fill out the survey by close of business on Friday, March 26.

https://abcnational.iad1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8AJBF91HMVSrPhQ

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: Davis-Bacon Repeal Act Introduced, Walsh Set for Confirmation, MEPP Update, and House Immigration Bill

ABC Supports Davis-Bacon Repeal Act:

Yesterday, Sen. Mike Lee introduced the Davis-Bacon Repeal Act for the 117th Congress. ABC sent a letter of support for the bill, stating in part that “Eliminating or modernizing the Davis-Bacon Act would create the conditions for all qualified contractors and their skilled workforce to compete to rebuild their communities and give taxpayers additional value for investments in public works projects as Congress works to enact critical infrastructure modernization and America faces a $2.6 trillion infrastructure gap by 2029.”

 

Walsh Nomination Moves Forward in Senate:

This afternoon, the U.S. Senate voted 68-30 to limit debate on Marty Walsh’s nomination to serve as U.S. labor secretary, setting the stage for a confirmation vote early next week. Walsh, a two-term Democratic mayor of Boston, is likely to be confirmed with at least some Republican votes, given the large number of Republicans who voted in favor of limiting debate on his nomination.
 

House Set to Pass DACA and TPS Protections:

Today, the House will pass the American Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6) in Congress. If signed into law, H.R. 6 would provide an expedited path to citizenship for Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA) beneficiaries. Current DACA recipients would also immediately be eligible for Lawful Permanent Resident (green card) status. This “conditional status” designation would last for 10 years before the adoption to apply for citizenship would become available. Until then, Dreamers may also be eligible to apply for a green card via military service for two years, working for three years, or getting a degree from a higher education institution, or be at least two years through a bachelor’s or technical vocational program. 

H.R. 6’s additional provisions would also ease financial barriers to higher education, restoring states’ abilities to determine in-state tuition eligibility for undocumented applicants based on residence without penalties under current law.

The bill also extends the path to Citizenship to TPS and DED Holders, the majority of whom have lived in the country for decades. Under H.R. 6, these status holders would be allowed to apply for green cards immediately if they have lived in the country for at least three years and were eligible for TPS status on Sept. 17, 2017, or had deferred enforced departure status as of Jan. 20, 2021. After five years of holding a green card, they would be able to apply for citizenship.

 

Tax Day for Federal Income Tax Filing for Individuals Extended to May 17

On March 17, the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service announced that the federal income tax filing due date for individuals for the 2020 tax year will be automatically extended from April 15, 2021, to May 17, 2021. The IRS will be providing formal guidance in the coming days. Read the press release.

 

Michigan Senate Republicans Pass Resolution Opposing the PRO Act

On Tuesday, March 16, the Michigan State Senate debated Senate Concurrent Resolution 8, which opposes the so called the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, sweeping federal legislation that would strengthen union organizing rights and restrict the autonomy of workers and employers. After hours of debate by both parties, SCR 8 was passed by a voice vote.

Sen. Aric Nesbitt (R-Lawton), sponsor of SCR 8, said he believed the PRO Act would upend state right to work laws as well as eliminate the secret ballot in union elections, destroy independent contractors, the gig economy and lead to an uptick of lawsuits against businesses. Michigan Republicans urged members of Congress and President Biden to oppose these policies that would dimmish right to work state laws and infringe on the due process rights of employers.

On March 9, the U.S House passed the PRO Act by a vote of 225-206, with five Republicans voting yes.

 

ABC has sent a Key Vote NO on PRO Act letter to U.S. Representatives to express concerns about the effect this legislation would have on a wide range of industries across the country. The PRO Act now faces the 60-vote threshold of the Senate, you can contact your Senators on the PRO Act with ABC’s Action Alert.

 

Feedback Requested for ABC Member Survey on COVID-19 Vaccinations

As COVID-19 vaccinations are becoming more widely available, ABC National is conducting a survey to gather member information to get a better sense of how employers plan to approach immunization in their workplaces. The information from this survey will assist ABC in formulating its position on COVID-19 vaccination in the workplace.

ABC National is asking that members fill out the survey by close of business on Friday, March 26.

https://abcnational.iad1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8AJBF91HMVSrPhQ

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ABC Beltway Blueprint: House Passes PPP Extension, Democrats Ratchet Up Filibuster Reform, and FOCA Update

House Passes Extension of Paycheck Protection Program:

Yesterday, the U.S. House passed legislation, H.R. 1799, the PPP Extension Act, to extend the PPP application period through May 2021 by a vote of 415-3, with only Rep. Marjorie Greene (Ga.), Thomas Massie (Ky.), and Tom McClintock (Calif.) voting in opposition.

Earlier this week, ABC joined a coalition of small business organizations in support of the bipartisan PPP Extension Act of 2021, which would extend the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) application period through May 31, 2021. Under current law, the application period expires at the end of this month, though approximately $92.5 billion in funding remains available through the program, including the recently appropriated $7.25 billion.  

A critical reason for the PPP extension is because new anti-fraud checks by the SBA are slowing PPP approvals and lenders say there's a real risk that some applications may be stuck when the program ends March 31. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wants to move the two-month PPP extension bill "as quickly as possible,” and ABC will provide updates on the bill’s progress in the Senate.

 

Democrats Ratchet up Push for Filibuster Reform: 

In a Tuesday interview with ABC News, President Biden expressed his support for changing the Senate’s filibuster rule to requiring senators to talk on the floor to hold up a bill’s passage, the first time he has publicly endorsed reforms to the senate filibuster. Progressive Democrats in Congress have also been pushing for eliminating the Senate filibuster and have highlighted the House passage of the ABC-opposed H.R. 1 election law bill as a critical reason for eliminating the filibuster. Senate Majority Leader Schumer (D-N.Y.) has stated his intention to bring the equally dangerous Senate version of the bill S. 1 to the floor, setting up a showdown that will increase outside and internal pressure on Democrats to address the filibuster before the mid-term elections.

 

Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell took to the Senate floor yesterday to push back on Democratic claims that reforming or ending the filibuster would result in a slew of victories for the president, stating in part “This chaos would not open up an express lane to liberal change. It would not open up an express lane for the Biden presidency to speed into the history books. The Senate would be more like a hundred-car pile-up. Nothing moving.”

 

While Democratic Senators Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) have expressed their support for the 60-vote threshold for most legislation in the Senate outside of budget reconciliation, Manchin has expressed an openness to some reforms to both protect the filibuster and make the filibuster rule more “painful” for the minority: "I'd make it harder to get rid of the filibuster, I'm supporting the filibuster, I'm going to continue to support the filibuster," Manchin said. "I think it defines who we are as a Senate. I'll make it harder to get rid of it, but it should be painful if you want to use it."

 

OSHA Launches NEP and Updates COVID-19 Interim Enforcement Response Plan

In accordance with Executive Order 13999, on March 12, the U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA issued its National Emphasis Program—Coronavirus Disease 2019, which focuses OSHA enforcement efforts on companies that put the largest number of workers at serious risk of contracting COVID-19. In addition, the program prioritizes employers that retaliate against workers for complaints about unsafe or unhealthy conditions, or for exercising other rights protected by federal law. Read the rest of the article.

 

Feedback Requested for ABC Member Survey on COVID-19 Vaccinations

As COVID-19 vaccinations are becoming more widely available, ABC National is conducting a survey to gather member information to get a better sense of how employers plan to approach immunization in their workplaces. The information from this survey will assist ABC in formulating its position on COVID-19 vaccination in the workplace.

All ABC chapter presidents received a copy of the link below and were asked to forward it to their members’ Human Resources directors and lead safety personnel. ABC National is asking that members fill out the survey by close of business on Friday, March 26.

https://abcnational.iad1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8AJBF91HMVSrPhQ

 

FOCA Update:

Today the Washington Times published ABC’s op-ed sharing concerns about the expansion of government-mandated project labor agreement policies, you can also share this op-ed with your member via social media.  

ABC grassroots alert in support of FOCA can also be found here for members to contact their U.S. Reps. and Senators to support. The bill currently has 43 cosponsors in the House.

The Biden administration has also confirmed receipt of ABC’s coalition letter.

 

Arkansas Passes SALT Parity Law:

Yesterday, Arkansas officially became the ninth state to adopt SALT Parity reforms advocated by ABC’s Parity for Main Street Employers Coalition, as Governor Asa Hutchinson signed House Bill 1209 into law last night. The new law allows owners of pass-through businesses – including S corporations and partnerships – to elect to pay their state taxes at the entity level, rather than having the business’s income flow through to the individual owners. 

By way of background, deductions on state and local taxes (SALT) paid by pass-through business owners are currently capped at $10,000. Conversely, C corporations are allowed to fully deduct these same expenses. In states that tax pass-through firms at the owner level, the disparate treatment puts their firms at a significant disadvantage compared to C corporations.

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