Government Affairs

ACPA Encourages Members to Participate in TCC Fly-In

The Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) Annual Fly-In will be held in conjunction with the ARTBA Federal Issues Program from Monday, May 13, through Wednesday, May 15, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel.  The hotel is located at 1000 H Street Northwest, Washington, DC.

ACPA Chairman Jim Mack of CEMEX, and Leif Wathne, ACPA Executive Vice President, are planning to attend the fly-in ahead of next week’s ACPA Chapter meeting.

For those interested in participating, please click here to reserve hotel rooms and register for the event.  Click here for additional  details, including the program schedule.  For any questions regarding the conference please contact Ed Tarrant at

In related news, the TCC has unveiled a new website, which includes information about its mission, history, current advocacy initiatives, and more.  Click here to see the website. ACPA is a long-standing member of TCC, which includes 31 members.  

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TCC Advances Discussion on Proposal to Renew Interstate Highways

The Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) has formally encouraged Congressional Leaders to support a report and underlying plan called, Renewing Our Commitment to the Interstate Highway System: A Foundation for the Future, which was first reported by ACPA in January.  ACPA’s Board of Directors also formally endorsed the report in March.

TCC wrote and sent letters to U.S. House and Senate Leaders, urging the lawmakers to “build on the recommendations made in this report by passing legislation that makes a meaningful investment in the nation’s transportation system.” TCC also urged the Leaders to advance an infrastructure investment bill which will “address the shortfalls in investment in our transportation system highlighted in the report.” 

Click here to see the letters to the House and Senate minority and majority leaders. Click here to see the original report by ACPA, along with links to the recommendations made in the report, the presentation made at the TRB Chairman’s Luncheon in January, and a video presentation. 
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HTF Solvency Figure Higher Than Expected

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) last week released their updated baseline budget projections for the ongoing fiscal year 2019, as well as the 10-year period of fiscal years 2020 through 2029. 

The new baseline estimates include the cost of keeping the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) solvent at baseline spending levels, according to a report by Jeff Davis, Eno Center for Transportation Senior Fellow and Editor of the Eno Transportation Weekly. 

The FY 2019 enacted levels, plus annual inflation increases of around 2 percent per year, has risen to about $176 billion, which is about $12 billion higher than the $164 billion that CBO projected in its January 2019 preliminary baseline.

The new baseline projects the highway account of the HTF will require $124 billion in additional revenues or bailout transfers (or spending cuts) to get to a zero balance at the end of the current fiscal year. A “cash cushion” also would have to be added to reflect the fact that year-end totals actually include a large mid-October retroactive transfer of excise taxes from the Treasury, Davis writes.  As such, ending September with a zero balance really means cash was actually depleted on a day-to-day basis sometime in the middle of that month.  This calls for a $4 billion cash cushion for the Highway Account and a $1 billion cushion. Click here to read the full report.

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Perspectives on the $2T Infrastructure Plan

The President and Congressional leaders met yesterday to discuss infrastructure, and insiders report the meeting was constructive and focused on working together to develop an infrastructure bill valued at $2 trillion, according to the American Highway Users Alliance (AHUA).  An infrastructure could include a long-term highway reauthorization bill.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) expressed positive comments about the meeting, with Sen. Schumer saying “there was goodwill” on both sides toward developing a major piece of legislation, according to a report by THE HILL, which added  Speaker Pelosi said both sides had “come to one agreement: that the agreement would be big and bold.”There is no information or agreement on how the parties expect the bill to be funded. Although the Administration will rely on Congress to draft the legislation and will not be drafting its own detailed proposal, there was reportedly some regret within the Administration over their 2017 proposal that relied heavily upon public-private partnerships and leverage as the primary source of funding for infrastructure, AHUA says. In addition to President Donald Trump, Secretary Elaine Chao and National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow were among the senior-level Administration attendees present.

Although details are limited, the characterization of the meeting being cordial and constructive is important. Had the meeting been a disaster, it would have likely doomed any progress on infrastructure or highways this year. Instead, there is some potential bipartisan momentum that could energize the process, AHUA says.

Shortly after the meeting, Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader Schumer issued a joint statement, saying, “Building America’s infrastructure is about creating jobs immediately, and also bolstering the commerce it facilitates, advancing public health with clean air and clean water, and improving the safety of our transportation system, and addressing climate change with clean energy, clean transportation and resilient infrastructure. 

“We are pleased the President agreed to include a major investment in expanding broadband to rural, urban and other underserved areas to deliver broadband’s benefits for education, health care and commerce,” they say. “We have an historic opportunity to build infrastructure for the future, and an urgency to address the safety needs that our crumbling infrastructure represents.  Every congressional district in America has urgent needs, which any big and bold initiative must address.”

Also commenting on the meeting yesterday was House Transportation & Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio.  “Today’s meeting with the White House was a big step in the right direction in our work to develop a robust, bipartisan plan for infrastructure investment,” he says, adding, “Two trillion dollars is a significant federal investment that could make a real difference in communities across this country, whether we’re talking roads, bridges, and transit systems, or harbors, airports and wastewater systems, just to name a few areas that would get a real boost from a bipartisan deal.

“I’m encouraged to hear the widespread agreement on the need to act on infrastructure—and to act soon— and I look forward to continuing this critical conversation with the White House and House and Senate leadership in the coming weeks,” he adds.

At the time of this writing, there was no corresponding statement regarding the meeting by the White House or Congressional Republicans, although some party members, including Rep. Greg Pence (R-IN-06), did express support in social media posts.  The WASHINGTON POST reports that “Congressional leaders said they will return to the White House in three weeks to determine how to pay for it.”

Transportation-construction, labor, and other advocacy groups will continue to advance positions on the Highway Trust Fund, funding mechanisms, and other key provisions in support of the highway bill, and more broadly, on infrastructure investment. 

Photo:  The Hill

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ACPA Participates in Environmental Streamlining Forum

When the current highway bill* was enacted, it contained a provision that created FAST-41,** a new governance structure, set of procedures, and funding authorities to improve the Federal environmental review and authorization process for covered infrastructure projects.

The first annual Stakeholders Engagement Forum was held yesterday at the General Services Administration headquarters in Washington, DC.  The event provided officials with the opportunity to provide an overview of the FAST 41 structure, as well as to showcase the resources and services offered by the GSA’s federal Permitting Council, which has the role of streamlining the review and authorization of environmental permitting on large scale, complex infrastructure projects throughout the country. 

The Permitting Council is comprised of members of 14 Federal agencies, the Council on Environmental Quality, and the Officce of Management and Budget. 

Leif Wathne of ACPA was present for the discussions and gained insights into the scope of the Permitting Council, as well as the scale of projects, which may be eligible to be covered under FAST-41 if they meet several criteria, including requiring investment of $200M or more.  ACPA will continue to track the Permitting Council’s activities to assess applicability to ACPA members, including benefits to transportation agencies across the country.

Photo:  Alex Hergott, Executive Director of the GSA’s Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council, presents remarks at the first annual Stakeholders Engagement Forum.

*  Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act of 2015
** FAST 41 refers to the current surface transportation and Title 41, which covers public contracts and related topics. 

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