1. Despite a filibuster by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) over spending concerns, and a failed attempt by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to obtain a firm commitment for an immigration vote, Congress Friday morning passed a six-week stopgap spending bill and ended a several-hour government shutdown. The Continuing Resolution (CR)
funds the federal government at current (FY 2017) levels through March 23, 2018 and includes an agreement on a long-term plan
for the next two years.
NECA Look Ahead:
The deal allows Congressional Appropriators time to negotiate final details for an appropriations package that would deliver full funding for the remainder of FY 2018 and begin the process for FY 2019. The agreement also lifts the debt limit through March 1, 2019 and reverses mandatory sequestration cuts. The deal is notable because it is the first bipartisan, bicameral agreement on an overall budget deal in nine years. This massive package includes a number of NECA-supported provisions including:
Click here for the full text Click here to view summary
- $89.3 billion in emergency supplemental appropriations to help states, communities, businesses, and individuals respond and recover from recent hurricanes, wildfires and other disasters.
- A one-year extension of critical tax provisions that help families, individuals and small businesses across the country. These provisions expired at the end of 2016.
$20 billion new investment in America’s infrastructure -- a bipartisan priority shared by President Trump and lawmakers in both parties.
- $6 billion over two years to bolster the ongoing fight against opioid addiction and substance abuse by funding new grants, prevention programs, and law enforcement efforts in vulnerable communities across the country.
- Creates Joint Select Committee on Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans
2. The new budget agreement also contains language to create a Joint Select Committee on Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans. This new and temporary joint committee will consist of the following parameters:
- The Committee will be made up of 12 members to be appointed by House and Senate leaders. The members will include six Senators and six House members, equally divided between Republicans and Democrats.
- The Committee has instructions to report a bill to solve the pension crisis by the final week of November.
- If at least four members from each party agree on a compromise, the solution the Committee produces will be guaranteed an expedited vote on both the House and Senate floors with no amendments.
- The Committee will be required to hold at least five public meetings, including at least one field hearing outside of D.C. for the Committee to hear directly from retirees, workers and businesses affected by the pension crisis.
NECA Look Ahead: NECA, as a key member of the leading multiemployer pension coalition, will further advocate for the inclusion of composite plans in any compromise that is to come from the joint committee. With the committee required to hold multiple public meetings and hearings, NECA intends to be vocal at any and all opportunities on this matter.
3. One of the critical problems facing our nation is our outdated water infrastructure. This past week the NECA supported (S.2364/H.R.4902) Securing Required Funding for Water Infrastructure Now Act was introduced. This bill is major step forward in water infrastructure investment.
NECA Look Ahead: Stakeholders in both the House and Senate have begun the official negotiations on the 2018 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). This legislation authorizes federal funds for new U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood protection and other types of water projects. The bill will also be a bipartisan vehicle for water infrastructure policy changes. NECA has had meetings with key policymakers in both the House and the Senate on the issues and is a members of larger Water Infrastructure coalition. We will continue to advocate for increased investment in water infrastructure projects both as a stand-alone bill and a part of a larger infrastructure package.