1. After months of development, House Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline released a discussion draft of NECA-supported multiemployer pension reform legislation authorizing the use of Composite Plans at a Capitol Hill press event held the morning of September 9.
NECA’s Look Ahead: Introduction of the discussion draft has been a long time coming. NECA has been advocating for passage of Composite Plans going back as far as 2013. While similar language authorizing composite plans was set for inclusion in the original Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014, it was taken out at the last minute. Chairman Kline pledged to move forward with this legislation this Congress and NECA will continue to work with him to ensure there will be strong bipartisan support to get this bill passed before the end of the year.
2. The Senate began floor consideration of the NECA-supported Water Resources Development Act on September 7, with eight amendments put forward for the bill, so far. Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Ranking Member Barbara Boxer (D-CA) have urged Senators to refrain from offering any controversial amendments and set the deadline for submitting amendments for noon on September 9.
NECA’s Look Ahead: Moving the bill to the Senate floor was a major procedural hurdle, and it is clear the bill has enough support to withstand any further obstacles. There will be some major differences between the Senate and House versions of the bill. The House bill is a slimmer package and does not include funding for the water crisis in Flint, MI. However, it looks like the legislation will easily withstand that criticism and the Senate language could prevail. House leaders hope to move their version of the bill out of the House floor in the next two weeks.
3. House Republicans met behind closed-doors September 8 to discuss how to avoid a politically perilous government shutdown at month's end.
NECA’s Look Ahead: Even though Congress has just returned from a nearly two-month summer work period, there is already chatter about passing a short-term spending measure to keep the government open through December. This will accomplish three things: 1) it will keep the government open past the September 30 fiscal year; 2) it allows Members of Congress more time to go back to their districts and campaign before the November elections; and, 3) it will give Congressional leaders time to plan out the schedule for the end of the calendar year. Lastly, the House may have no choice in the matter; Senate Republicans, as early as next week, intend to pass a continuing resolution (CR) funding the government through December 9. Should that happen, Congress will head back home much earlier than anticipated.