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Gov't Affairs News

NECA Top Three 8/4/17

Aug 03, 2017

1. Last Friday the House passed a bipartisan appropriation bill, H.R. 3219, Make America Secure Appropriations Act, 2018.  This bill was an omnibus legislation that packaged together four appropriations bills: Defense, Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction-Veterans Affairs.

NECA’s Look Ahead: NECA commends the hard work of the members of the House Appropriations Committee and also the members of Congress who voted down a number of anti-labor provisions added as amendments to the bill.

Defense (base funding): 

$551b appropriated for FY 2017 (without war funding); the statutory cap is $549b; Administration requested $603; House placeholder bill provides $621.5b; and the Senate bill is at the $551b cap level. 

Non-Defense:  

$518.5b appropriated for FY 2017; the statutory cap is $515.4b; Administration requested deep cuts to $462b; House placeholder bills restore most cuts, providing $511b; and the Senate is at the $518.5b cap level.

Understanding the Caps:  

The statutory defense cap includes funding in the Defense appropriations bill, as well as defense-related funding in the Energy-Water and Mil Con-VA bills.


Omnibus Bill Highlights:

  • $584.2 billion in base discretionary spending for Defense Department programs
  • $88.8 billion in discretionary funding for military construction and VA programs
  • $37.6 billion for the Energy Department, Army Corps, and other water projects
  • $3.58 billion for legislative branch operations
  • $1.57 billion for constructing barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border

Military Construction and VA Bill Highlights:

Program (dollars in millions)

FY 2018 Bill

FY 2017

FY 2018 Bill Vs. Administration Request

Military construction, active components (base)

$6,813.80

$1,762.30

($576.90)

Military construction, reserve components (base)

$574.70

($98.00)

$0

Military construction (OCO)

$638.00

$218.30

($0.10)

Family housing

$1,407.20

$130.90

$0

North Atlantic Treaty Organization Security Investment Program (base)

$177.90

$0

$23.90

Department of Defense base closure account (base) 

$290.90

$50.60

$35.00

This legislation was largely a political exercise since all of the appropriations bills will have to be revised following bipartisan negotiations to reach a budget deal for overall funding levels for FY 2018 defense and non-defense discretionary spending.  Both Republicans and Democrats are not willing to live with the current spending caps that require cuts below FY 2017 levels for both defense and non-defense spending. If a budget deal is not reached in early September and the appropriations bills are not passed, the government could go into shut down mode on October 1, 2017.

2. Democratic Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) reintroduced the Wage Theft Prevention and Wage Recovery Act which seeks to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to fight employers who have historically not provided the entirety of a workers entitle wage. This bill includes a requirement for payout after separating from employers and a substantial fine for those who violate minimum wage and overtime protections. As the ranking member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Sen. Murray is optimistic for the legislation’s future, but many regard the bill as a longshot in a Republican-controlled Congress and White House.

NECA’s Look Ahead: NECA supports this effort to maintain fair standards and practices in regards to wages and looks to further such efforts to enact positive reform in our industry. We will monitor this legislation and work with the HELP committee on similar endeavors.

3. As our contractors across the country continue to participate in the solar market, NECA is working to advocate on behalf of our members and chapters engaged in a critical issue affecting the solar construction market. NECA supports the fair and free trade of solar equipment to grow the American solar industry, which will strengthen our national security and drive local and national economic growth. However, in May 2017, two lone U.S. manufacturers of crystalline silicon cells and modules filed a petition with the International Trade Commission (ITC) underSection 201 of the Trade Act of 1974 seeking relief from “foreign manufactured crystalline silicon photovoltaic ("CSPV") cells and modules.” While NECA supports increasing the U.S. manufacturing base, we have decided to weigh in on this issue and oppose this petition to avoid damage to the 9,000 companies and 258,000 jobs in parts of the solar industry other than CSPV cell manufacturers.

NECA’s Look Ahead: If the ITC and Trump Administration agree with the petitioners’ case, the pricing environment for utility-scale solar developers will change dramatically, doubling the price of imported solar modules and likely shrinking the solar market in the long run due to increased costs. In an effort to prevent this from occurring, NECA is beginning to engage in a series of actions to ensure that the ITC is well informed about the consequences of any potential remedies, including sending a formal letter to the Commission expressing our opposition, as well as working with our Congressional allies explaining why we believe the petition before the ITC does not adequately represent the realities of the CSPV manufacturing sector. We have also set up an action alert in our Legislative Action Center where you can send a letter to your representatives in Congress informing them of your concerns and asking them to weigh in with the ITC. NECA will work with like-minded organizations such as the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) to fight for trade policies that support the entire solar industry, just as we would with any of the other energy producing sectors.
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