Government Affairs

Leaders Move to Block Rescission of Highway Contract Authority

House Democratic leaders on Tuesday released the text of a second fiscal year 2020 stopgap appropriations measure, with this CR expected to last from midnight November 21 to midnight December 20, according to Jeff Davis of The Eno Group. Aside from keeping the federal government operating at prorated FY 2019 levels past midnight Thursday (tomorrow), the legislation would repeal the $7.569 billion rescission of highway contract authority scheduled to take place on July 1, 2020, by section 1438 of the FAST Act.

Section 1702 of the draft bill states, “Section 1438 of the FAST Act (Public Law 114–94; 129 Stat. 1432) is repealed” and changes the FAST Act table of contents correspondingly. Title VIII of the bill also declares that neither the OMB nor the Senate shall score the budgetary effects of the bill on the “scorecard,” so any outlay consequences of the rescission repeal (if they are found to exist) will not be counted toward budget totals.

The provision of the bill repealing the rescission still violates several points of order under the Budget Act, as well as House and Senate budget rules, but the looming federal government shutdown affords House lawmakers the ability to “dare” opponents of the repeal to elevate the issue to the point where opposition of the appeal could result in a large-scale government shutdown.

In anticipation (and in strong opposition to) the rescission of the highway contract authority, the Transportation Construction Coalition, sent a letter to House Leadership last Friday strongly urging repeal of the rescission. The rescission of this contract authority, the Associations reasoned, would adversely impact all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Click here to see the letter.

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Transportation Secretary Announces Grants

U.S. DOT Secretary Elaine Chao announced Tuesday the Trump Administration will invest $900 million in infrastructure through the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Transportation Discretionary Grants program, according to a US DOT press release. The funding was awarded to 35 states for a total of 55 projects.

“The Administration is targeting BUILD Transportation grants to repair, rebuild, and revitalize significant infrastructure projects across the country,” says Secretary Chao, noting half the grant funding went to rural areas.

FY2019 BUILD Transportation grants are for investments in surface transportation infrastructure and have been awarded on a competitive basis to projects with a significant impact in their local or regional communities. BUILD funding supports roads, bridges, transit, rail, ports or intermodal transportation.  

The program selection criteria encompassed safety, economic competitiveness, quality of life, state of good repair, environmental sustainability, innovation, and partnerships with a broad range of stakeholders. Click here for a complete list of awarded project grants.

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FHWA Offers Workforce Insights in Partnership Meeting

A Highway Construction Workforce Partnership (HCWP) partners’ meeting provided insights into the solutions to federal programs aimed at addressing workforce issues, including shortages and developmental programs.  

The meeting began with opening remarks by Tony Furst, FHWA Chief Innovation Officer, and Nancy Rooney, U.S. Department of Labor Deputy Assistant Secretary. Leif Wathne of ACPA and Jay Hansen of NAPA both had an opportunity to share comments with the group.

The meeting covered a variety of topics, including outreach/marketing, FHWA HCWP grants, and a notice of proposed rulemaking for an apprenticeship program. Participants also received a summary of HWCP activity in various states and cities.

The meeting was held on November 4 and was  hosted by the FHWA’s Center for Transportation Workforce Development and took place at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) headquarters in Washington, DC. In addition to the key agencies, other partners include AGC, ARTBA, AASHTO, the DOL’s Employment and Training Administration, and NAPA.  

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News from Capitol Hill

This is the latest installment of highlights of PCA’s “This Week in Washington” update. Interested in seeing more? Become an ACPA Advocacy Interest Member.* Advocacy Interest Members are eligible to participate in the Legislative Issues Committee (LIC). Click here to join!

In Washington, the Senate passed a package of four fiscal year 2020 appropriations bills, including one to fund the U.S. Department of Transportation, by a vote of 84-9. In related news, the Transportation Construction Coalition sent a letter opposing two amendments to decrease investment and transportation.

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* Advocacy Interest Membership is a special individual membership category. To be eligible for membership in this category, a member must be a stockholder, owner, director, or employee of a member admitted to any other class of membership (Article IV, Section a-i, and l). In addition, to become and remain eligible, individuals must affirm their Advocacy Interest Membership annually.

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ACPA and Coalition Partners Express Support for Senate Legislation

ACPA and almost 40 organizations sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) expressing strong support for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s transporation bill, America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act,  S. 2302. 

The letter notes that S. 2302 “provides a rare opportunity to benefit all states and continue the nation’s longest economic expansion in history.”  The authors note that although the EPW Committee has unanimously approved a critical federal infrastructure initiative, the rest of the Senate to take the next steps.

The letter also commends EPW Committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY), Ranking Member Tom Carper  (D-DE) and all committee members for “proactively moving forward with a reauthorization of the federal highway program more than a year before it expires. History has demonstrated that delaying action on such measures until their deadline leads to two outcomes: short-term extensions; and disruption of state highway improvement plans.”

Click here to view the complete letter.

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