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Gov't Affairs Top Three: 9/15

Sep 15, 2017

LegUpdate9151. On Tuesday, Representatives Pat Meehan (R-PA) and Donald Norcross (D-NJ) held a press event in southeast Pennsylvania to release their much awaited 529 Opening Paths To Invest in Our Nation’s Students (OPTIONS) Act (H.R. 3395). This NECA-developed legislation seeks to establish a level of parity between the use of 529 college savings plans for four-year colleges and apprenticeships. The legislation has already received strong support from the Building Trades and on Capitol Hill. While only being open for co-sponsorships for just over a full week, the OPTIONS Act has nearly 20 cosponsors and many more have pledged to sign on in the coming weeks.

NECA’s Look Ahead: NECA will continue to advocate for this bill and will continue efforts to garner more cosponsors. We are extremely grateful that Mr. Norcross and Mr. Meehan invited Kevin Tighe, NECA’s Executive Director of Labor Relations and Workforce Development, to participate in this press event. Write to your Member of Congress today and ask them to support H.R. 3395, the OPTIONS Act. Download NECA's Position Paper

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2. For the first time since 2009, the House of Representatives was able to use regular order and pass all twelve bills designed to fund the Federal government through September 30, 2018. The final eight bills were approved in one large $1.2 trillion package entitled the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act (H.R. 3354). The legislation had 342 amendments offered, nine of which were anti-Davis-Bacon and PLA amendments. All nine of those NECA-opposed amendments were defeated or withdrawn.

NECA’s Look Ahead: Congress passed a three-month government funding extension tied to hurricane Harvey aid designed to avoid a government shutdown on Oct. 1 and give the Senate time to act. Congress will have to finalize government spending when the three-month window ends on December 8. Neither chamber has approved a formal budget resolution, and the two chambers are working off different top-line numbers. Due to the threat of a Democratic filibuster in the Senate, the package will ultimately unlikely be enacted in its current form. Congress will likely work to create an “Omnibus” spending bill in December. We are optimistic, however that much of the language from the House bill will be included in a final deal.

3. On September 13, the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure held a hearing entitled, “Building a 21 Century Infrastructure for America: Economic Development Stakeholders’ Perspectives.” The hearing examined the various ways of coordinating federal funding and private investment.

NECA’s Look Ahead: This is an important step forward in developing final details of the long-awaited Trump infrastructure package. It is expected that the majority source of funding will be through the use of P3s (Public-Private Partnerships). The hearing demonstrated that the Committee is mindful of the need for strong economic partners for successfully completing a major infrastructure plan.

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