1. On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on “The Multiemployer Pension Plan System: Recent Reforms and Current Challenges.” NECA co-signed a letter to members of the committee urging Congress to expand on the reforms enacted by the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act (MPRA) by authorizing new plan designs.
NECA Look Ahead: The focus on benefit suspensions proposed by the Central States Pension Fund, and the crisis facing the Mine Workers health and pensions, complicates NECA’s efforts to authorize new plan designs for multiemployer pensions. Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee sent a letter to Chairman Hatch (R-UT) requesting that the committee delay action on any pension legislation until the miners’ situation is addressed. The letter, however, also expressed a willingness to work quickly and in a bipartisan matter to address the broader multiemployer pension crisis. In light of the hearing, NECA has ramped up efforts to educate Congress on the importance of MPRA and the urgent need to authorize new plan designs.
2. The Senate’s deliberation on its delayed energy bill, the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015, continues slowly as the chamber continues to debate how to provide federal aid to Flint, MI.
NECA Look Ahead: Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) said that progress continues, but it is clear that there is now a hold on the legislation due to Sen. Mike Lee’s (R-UT) concerns that the aid package will increase the deficit and his personal belief that Michigan should be handling this alone. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) has been working to resolve all outstanding amendments and told NECA staff that aid to Flint would be a part of the total legislative package.
3. Two bipartisan bills introduced in the House this week are designed to reform the management of federal office space and real estate, reduce government waste, and have the potential to save taxpayers billions of dollars.
NECA’s Look Ahead: The two bills are the Public Buildings Reform and Savings Act of 2016 (H.R. 4487), and the Federal Asset Sale and Transfer Act of 2016 (H.R. 4465). The bills would clarify congressional oversight of property exchanges, ensures federal construction projects remain within or under budget, and sets clear timeframes on authorized projects.
The Public Buildings Reform and Savings Act of 2016 (H.R. 4487)
Reforms of the General Services Administration (GSA) in the bill will enable the agency to better facilitate consolidations, reduce space, and negotiate the best possible office space lease deals to save billions of dollars. The bill also strengthens authorities of the Federal Protective Service (FPS) in order to improve security at federal buildings.
With half of GSA’s leased inventory expiring in the next five years, providing GSA with authorities to expeditiously capitalize on currently lower rental rates will provide significant taxpayer savings. The bill establishes a Streamlined Leasing Pilot Program that reduces the administrative red tape on most GSA leases and encourages space consolidations.
The legislation also improves accountability in the acquisition and construction of new federal space. H.R. 4487 ensures federal construction projects remain within or under budget, sets clear timeframes on authorized projects, and clarifies congressional oversight of property exchanges.
Furthermore, the bill clarifies protection authorities related to federal buildings and improves accountability and oversight of the use of such authorities.
Click here for more information about the Public Buildings Reform and Savings Act of 2016. Read the bill here.
The Federal Asset Sale and Transfer Act of 2016 (H.R. 4465)
This legislation implements common sense policies to shrink the size of government and help ensure savings by selling or redeveloping high value properties, consolidating federal space, maximizing the utilization rates of space, and streamlining the disposal of unneeded assets.
The bill establishes a Public Buildings Reform Board of members who will identify opportunities to reduce the real property inventory and make recommendations for the sale of at least $8 billion worth of underutilized and vacant federal properties. The bill also requires the GSA to create and publish a single, comprehensive database of all federal real properties, including whether that property is excess, surplus, underutilized or unutilized to prevent a future stockpiling of unused and under-utilized property.
Click here for more information about the Federal Asset Sale and Transfer Act of 2016.