This week, AGC joined 171 employers and employer associations in a letter supporting the Auto Enroll Repeal Act (S. 2546). This bill was introduced by Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and would repeal the automatic enrollment provision under the Affordable Care Act (section 1511).
On Tuesday, the president signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act into law. The bill easily passed both the House and Senate in recent weeks. The legislation will reform the workforce development system, giving states greater flexibility and strengthening employer engagement. To read more about the law, click here.
Resolution Must Come Before the August Recess
On Wednesday, Senate leaders reached agreement on how to proceed with consideration of the short-term highway and transit extension bill, which passed the House last week. The agreement reached by Senate Majority Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would allow for the consideration of four amendments each requiring 60 votes to pass. If the amendments do not receive the required 60 votes, the Senate would then vote on clearing the House-passed measure as-is, which would provide an $11 billion transfer to the Highway Trust Fund and an extension of the current transportation authorization (MAP-21) – through May 31, 2015.
Former Dollar General CEO David Perdue came from behind to defeat Rep. Jack Kingston in the U.S. Senate Republican run-off to score what most believe was an upset win for the GOP nomination. He now faces Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn, who won her own primary back in May. With just over 480,000 people voting in the run-off contest, Perdue captured 51 percent of the vote.
Today, President Obama announced a new executive action to create the Build America Investment Initiative, a government-wide initiative to increase infrastructure investment and economic growth. As part of the initiative, the administration is launching the Build America Transportation Investment Center – housed at the Department of Transportation – to serve cities and states seeking to use innovative financing and partnerships with the private sector to support transportation infrastructure.
This week, the House, by a vote of 367-55, approved H.R. 5021, a $10.8 billion Highway Trust Fund patch which provides sufficient revenue to maintain current funding levels through May 2015. The bill also extends MAP-21 authorization for the highway and transit programs for eight more months. It received strong bipartisan support from 181 Republicans and 186 Democrats, while 45 Republicans and 10 Democrats voted against it. Revenue needed to support the patch came from a general fund transfer which was off-set by a variety of tax code adjustments. AGC and our coalition partners in the Americans for Transportation Mobility (ATM) and the Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) urged the House to support H.R. 5021 to avoid a disruption in payments to states, while urging Congress to take action to enact a long-term transportation bill by the end of the year.
On July 16, following a hearing on EPA’s expanded Clean Water Act Permit veto authority, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held a markup to move several bills to the full House. Among them were three AGC-supported pieces of legislation designed to improve the process for Clean Water Act permits and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) overall regulatory process. These bills included the Regulatory Certainty Act of 2014, designed to define a clear window for EPA to exercise its veto authority under section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act. This would address the issue of retroactive vetoes of the permit years after construction had begun as well as preemptive vetoes, removing large swaths of land from development before a permit has even been requested. The measure was introduced by Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chair Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio).
On July 15, the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment held a hearing to explore the expanded view of authority that the courts have affirmed for EPA under section 404 (c) of the Clean Water Act. AGC’s Senior Environmental Advisor, Leah Pilconis was on hand to testify.