ABC-VA Blog

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 comstock@abc.org.

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 (MBaskin@littler.com) regarding any potential legal applications, and with Ben Brubeck (Brubeck@abc.org) 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 (Buttarazzi@abc.org) 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 FilerSupport@eeocdata.org 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.

Read the rest of entry »

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