ABC Beltway Blueprint: Infrastructure Update and PRO Act Hearing in the Senate
While Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D. N.Y, continues to push a procedural vote this week on the bipartisan infrastructure bill currently being negotiate, final legislative text has not been agreed to as issues remain with policy language included in the bill and pay-fors. Without a finalized deal, Schumer plans to use existing Senate legislation as the vehicle to move forward in a procedural vote that could be amended with the finalized deal language at a later date.
Lead Republican negotiator on the bill Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, stated “It’s absurd to move forward with a vote on something that’s not yet formulated,” making it unlikely that Republicans will move forward on a procedural vote without the full legislative text of an agreement. Any vote to move forward would need 60 votes to pass, which will require all 50 votes in the Democratic caucus and at least 10 Republican votes, which remains unlikely at this time.
The bipartisan group of 22 U.S. Senators are still working to finalize the infrastructure deal but outstanding issues remain on how to pay for the new spending provided under the bipartisan group’s framework, and Sen. Schumer is facing a tight deadline ahead of the August recess. If no deal can be reached on infrastructure spending, Democrats still plan to go it alone through the budget reconciliation process that could provide trillions more in funding for Democratic priorities, though would have to obtain support from nearly all Democrats in the House and all 50 in the Senate to pass.
ABC continues to advocate for key policies that ensure no restrictive labor provisions are included and that any bipartisan deal supports the construction industry and fair and open competition for infrastructure projects.
Ask Your Senators to Oppose PLA Mandates in Infrastructure Legislation
If you live in one of the following states, please consider reaching out to your senator(s) included in the group of 22 bipartisan negotiators: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia. The link only works for individuals located in these states.
Senate PRO Act Hearing Thursday:
The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will hold its first hearing on the PRO Act (S. 420) this Congress. Among the list of witnesses for the Democrats include Mark Pearce, who served as Chairman of the National Labor Relations Board during the Obama Administration from 2011-2017. ABC opposed President Trump’s renomination of Pearce to serve on the board in 2018, citing his positions on the joint employer standard and ambush union elections, among others. The hearing is a dangerous step forward by Democrats to push for a vote on the legislation. However, as it currently stands, the PRO Act only has the support of 47 Senate Democrats.
ABC has drafted a letter to the committee ahead of the hearing which will include all ABC chapters that do not OPT OUT of signing onto the letter. You may view the letter here, and if you would like to opt out, please email email@example.com.
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.