1. President Trump Issues Buy American Executive Order for Infrastructure
On January 31, President Donald Trump issued a new executive order directing the head of each executive department and agency to “encourage recipients of new Federal financial assistance awards to use, to the greatest extent practicable, iron and aluminum as well as, steel, cement, and other manufactured products produced in the United States in every contract, subcontract, purchase order, or sub‑award that is chargeable against such Federal financial assistance award.”
NECA’s Look Ahead: Each year, more than 30 federal agencies award over $700 billion in federal financial assistance to more than 40,000 non-federal recipient organizations. This assistance comes in the form of loans, loan guarantees, grants, cooperative agreements, insurance and interest subsidies.
The Buy America Executive Order signed today will make progress in closing potential gaps in coverage. The Administration said that extending Buy American principles to more federal financial assistance further reinforces the President’s clear preference for Buy American policies.
2. NECA-Supported Cadillac Tax Repeal Bill Reintroduced
On January 24, Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA), Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA), and Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), introduced H.R. 748, “The Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act of 2019.” This bill, which already has over 80 cosponsors, seeks to fully repeal the damaging “Cadillac Tax” or the excise tax on employer sponsored healthcare. While the tax has been delayed multiple times, it looms large over our contractors, who across the board provide healthcare that would be subjected to the tax.
NECA’s Look Ahead: Similar legislation introduced in the previous Congress received widespread support numbering well over 300 cosponsors, but was never taken to the House floor for a vote. As this version of the legislation continues to spread and gain support, NECA will urge leadership to take up the issue and pass the reasonable reform to this punitive tax.
3. Shutdown Ends After 35 Days; Talks Begin on Long-Term Deal
Last Friday afternoon The House and The Senate passed two measures, H.J.Res. 28 - Continuing Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2019 (Short-term CR through February 15) and a Motion to go to Conference on H.J.Res. 31 - Department of Homeland Security Continuing Resolution (Short-term Homeland CR through February 15). These bills put an end the partial government shutdown and reopened the federal agencies affected by the partial shutdown.
NECA’s Look Ahead:
In order to prepare for the new budgetary deadline and address the need for additional funding, the House and Senate created a bipartisan and bicameral conference committee to address the issue of boarder security and Department of Homeland Security Appropriations.
The Committee includes the following Senators:
- Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the Senate Appropriations chairman
- Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, the chairwoman of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee
- Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota, a member of the Appropriations Committee
- Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee
- Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Ranking Member on the Senate Appropriations Committee
- Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, member of the Appropriations Committee
- Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, Ranking Member on the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee
The Committee includes the following House Members:
- Rep. Nita Lowey of New York, chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee
- Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard of California, chairwoman of the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee
- Rep. David Price of North Carolina, a member of the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee
- Rep. Barbara Lee of California, Appropriations Committee member
- Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas, Appropriations Committee member
- Rep. Pete Aguilar of California, Appropriations Committee member
- Rep. Kay Granger of Texas, the top Republican on the House Appropriations Committee
- Rep. Chuck Fleischmann of Tennessee, the top Republican on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security
- Rep. Tom Graves of Georgia, Appropriations Committee member
- Rep. Steven Palazzo of Mississippi, Appropriations Committee member
If an agreement is not reached by between the special committee, rank and file members, and the White House by midnight on February 15th, the government will enter into another partial shutdown.