Federal Contractor Report
July 2018
Federal Government

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has released its long-awaited workplan to use the $17.4 billion that Congress allocated for recovery projects in the areas affected by last year’s natural disasters. These areas include Texas, Florida, California, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The disaster recovery funds are spread across six Army Corps appropriations accounts. The largest account by far, the construction account, will fund 60 flood and storm damage reduction projects in 16 states and Puerto Rico at a total cost of $13.9 billion.

On July 11, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing in which both Republicans and Democrats expressed support for infrastructure improvements. Senators heard testimony from witnesses about the benefits of the Transportation Infrastructure and Innovation Act (TIFIA) and the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) programs – both of which provide long-term, low-cost financing to regionally and nationally significant transportation and water projects respectively. Of particular interest is the overwhelming support from senators and stakeholders in regards to the "Securing Required Funding for Water Infrastructure Now (SRF WIN) Act," which AGC worked to get included in the committee-passed America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018.
Includes MilCon, VA, and USACE Civil Works Funding

On June 25, the Senate approved the House-passed "minibus" appropriations bill (H.R. 5895) by a vote of 86-5. The minibus includes funding for Energy and Water, the Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs for fiscal year 2019. These three bills are the first of the 12 annual appropriations bills Congress needs to pass before the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.
Smith, Currie & Hancock, LLP

The Senate HELP Committee passed legislation to reform and reauthorize the Perkins Act, which is the primary legislation authorizing federal career and technical education funding. The House has passed AGC-supported legislation twice in as many years to only have it stall in the Senate.

Federal agencies recently have initiated action on several key environmental issues of importance to AGC of America’s contractor members ranging from water policy and lead-dust to environmental reviews. This summer, AGC will prepare written responses to the agencies on five proposals from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).

On June 29, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) issued a supplemental proposal to the July 2017 proposed action to repeal the 2015 Obama Administration definition of "Waters of the United States" (WOTUS). Public feedback on the July 2017 proposal indicated some level of public confusion about the agencies’ intent. As such, the EPA and USACE issued this supplemental proposal to clarify that the agencies are proposing to permanently repeal the 2015 WOTUS rule in its entirety and keep the pre-2015 regulatory framework in place until a new WOTUS rule is finalized. AGC supports the EPA and USACE effort to repeal and replace the 2015 WOTUS rule and will provide comment as necessary on this proposal.

For more information, contact Melinda Tomaino at tomainom@agc.org or (703) 837-5415.
Following Scott Pruitt’s resignation July 5, Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler assumed the role of acting administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on July 9. In his first address to EPA staff, Wheeler indicated that he would continue President Trump’s goals for the agency to rein in federal regulatory overreach and refocus EPA on its core responsibilities. AGC supported Andrew Wheeler’s confirmation as deputy administrator in a letter to the senate earlier this year.

On July 5, AGC of America commented on the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) proposed rule to update its existing cranes rule. The proposal attempts to clarify the existing training requirements and to incorporate an employer evaluation provision into the standard. AGC called on the agency to further clarify: what satisfies the ongoing training requirement for crane operators (e.g., tool box talks, pre-lift meetings, job safety analysis reviews, etc.); whether or not such training must be job-specific; and how the ongoing training requirement changes as an operator’s experience expands, among other things.

For more information, contact Kevin Cannon at (703) 837-5410 or cannonk@agc.org.
AGC News
Take this short survey today

As demand for construction in most parts of the country continues to expand and the number of unemployed construction workers hits record low levels, AGC of America and Autodesk are working to better quantify where these shortages are taking place, how severe they are, and what steps firms are taking to both cope with tight labor markets and improve the supply of new, qualified workers. That is why we are asking members to take a few minutes to complete the workforce survey that we have prepared. The more people understand the scope, and consequences, of a tight construction labor market, the more likely they are to act on the measures we are promoting to make it easier for school systems, local associations and private firms to establish career and technical education and training programs. The more members who take the survey, the better able we all will be to describe labor market conditions where you operate.
New Labor Department figures demonstrate how new tariffs have increased the costs of key construction materials, with metal materials experiencing double-digit percent increases

Construction costs accelerated again in June, with steep increases for a wide range of building and road construction materials as tariffs against foreign goods come into effect, according to an analysis by AGC of America of new Labor Department data. Association officials say that contractors will have to assume much of the costs as tariffs increase the costs of many key construction materials.
The construction industry has done a wonderful job over the decades building infrastructure and making tremendous strides in technology. However, just ask anyone in the industry and, more than likely, they will say the number one challenge is attracting young people and skilled workers. Combine this with a low unemployment rate, and the problem is as acute as ever.



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