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Gov't Affairs News

Legislative Top Three 7/28/17

Jul 27, 2017

1. On July 26, 2017, Rep. Pat Meehan (R-PA) of the House Ways and Means Committee and Rep. Donald Norcross (D-NJ) of the House Education and the Workforce Committee introduced the NECA-championed H.R. 3395, the 529 Opening Paths To Invest In Our Nation’s Students (OPTIONS) Act. This bill would allow those who have saved money under a 529 savings plan to utilize the funds for ancillary costs associated with a Department of Labor (DOL) approved apprenticeship. Passing this bill into law would be the first concrete step towards furthering DOL approved apprenticeships this Congress.

NECA’s Look Ahead: NECA is extremely pleased with this legislation and has begun to strongly advocate for co-sponsorships and support in Congress.

2. In the only bipartisan vote in favor of an amendment to the entire healthcare process, the Senate voted in favor of a NECA-supported amendment offered by Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) to repeal the Cadillac Tax by a margin of 52-48. However, the effort was ultimately nullified when the all 48 Senate democrats joined by three Republicans to defeat the Health Care Freedom Act, also known as the "Skinny Repeal" bill. This final vote has effectively brought the current legislative effort over healthcare to a halt. This is a major defeat for the Republican agenda, which will now move to tax reform, an issue hailed as being as complex as health care.

NECA’s Look Ahead: Although the health care debate appears to have ended, NECA will continue to advocate for a full repeal of the Cadillac tax and any other measure which would seek to damage the employer-sponsored health care. 

3. Throughout the summer, the House Committee on Appropriations worked to complete the twelve appropriations bills to fund the government. This week the House debated and is in the process of voting on H.R. 3219, Make America Secure Appropriations Act, 2018.  This bill is commonly referred to as the “minibus,” meaning that it is a collection of four appropriations bills: Defense, Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction-Veterans Affairs. An amendment that was offered by Rep. Steve King of Iowa to repeal the Davis-Bacon Act failed by the largest margin in history by a vote of 249-178, with 58 Republicans joining with all Democrats.

NECA’s Look Ahead: The House is continuing to debate and amend the legislation with final passage expected late Friday. We will send an update with the final numbers and outlook for the Military Construction portion of the bill next week. This is the second time this month that a repeal on Davis-Bacon had been offered in the House.  We are extremely pleased with the strong support against this proposal. As this congress continues, NECA will work to gain more support for the prevailing wage and Davis-Bacon Act.