1. House Passes WRDA Bill
On June 7, 2018, the House passed with overwhelming bipartisan support the NECA-supported bipartisan H.R. 8 - Water Resources Development Act of 2018 (WRDA).
NECA’s Look Ahead: This bill authorizes proposed U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works activities and provides reforms to the Corps and reaffirms the government's pledge to authorize, modify, and improve projects, programs, and policies protecting the nation from floods. Although we are very pleased with the overall bill, a key NECA-supported provision, the SRF WIN Act, was left out in the House bill. That provision is included in the Senate’s WRDA bill. We will continue to advocate for the final passage of WRDA, with the SRF provisions, as the bill advances through the Senate and goes to conference committee.
2. PBGC to Become Insolvent in 2025
The Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC) released its annual actuarial analysis on the future of its operation and funding levels. The report provided a bleak analysis of the multiemployer insurance program, finding that without Congressional intervention or action, and without the increase in premiums paid by employers, this program would become insolvent in 2025. As of now, the PBGC functions at a financial deficit hovering between $60-75 billion (depending on the projection rate). This deficit, combined with the status of critical and declining plans, means that the PBGC is only able to pay out a fraction of the benefits guaranteed to workers.
NECA’s Look Ahead: The underfunding of the PBGC highlighted by this most recent data is not unknown to many who follow the multiemployer pension issue. What is key, however, is the inclusion of an expected failure timeline which will aid in motivating lawmakers towards creating a positive action plan to better a system very much in need.
3. California Primary Wrap Up
The long-awaited top-two primary election in California was held June 5 and Democrats, who flooded nearly every major race with a plethora of candidates, managed to avoid being shutout in all of their targeted races. NECA-supported candidates, including Rep. Jeff Denham (R), Rep. Eric Swalwell (D), Rep. Paul Cook (R), and Rep. Scott Peters (D) all came in first in their respective primary races.
NECA’s Look Ahead: Conventional wisdom says that Democrats must win a net of five seats in California to have a shot at taking control of the House of Representatives in the Fall. While that is a possibility, it is still not a lock at this point in time and will not be apparent until after Labor Day. That is because while Democrat turnout was strong, the total number of GOP votes outnumbered the total number of Democrat votes overall in some key races. On the other hand, Democrat turnout for the 2018 primary election was on average about ten percent stronger than a combined average of the 2012, 2014, and 2016 elections. One final consideration to put things in perspective: Many of the districts the Democrats are targeting in California are not ones they have typically targeted in the past. The very fact that Democrats had multiple candidates in primaries in newly competitive districts drove voter turnout, but there is no guarantee that Democrat voter turnout will grow in the fall at the same rate.