1. On February 28, President Donald Trump made his first address to a Joint Session of Congress, presenting a more in depth look into what he has accomplished in his first 40 days and what he hopes to accomplish in the future. The President offered his hopes that Congress would be able to work with his administration towards comprehensive tax reform, the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, and the much anticipated $1 trillion infrastructure package.
Top takeaways for NECA contractors:
Comprehensive Tax Reform
President Trump briefly remarked on his plan to enact historic tax reform that will reduce tax rates on companies, allowing them to compete on an even playing field with others around the world. He then continued to advocate for his proposed border tax, arguing that many other countries have such a tariff on U.S. based goods shipped abroad. The President then spoke on his wishes to extend tax reform and relief to the middle class, its companies and the workers they employ.
Although lacking much-desired clarity, President Trump spoke on his plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. His plan calls for repealing the individual mandate, expanding healthcare markets across state lines, protecting those with pre-existing conditions, and giving citizens the opportunity to purchase plans through tax credits. Referencing his past claims, the President lamented that one third of all counties have only one insurer in the marketplace and that premiums across the country continue to rise. He then urged Congress to work together to reform the system.
Reiterating his campaign promise, the President encouraged a new program of national rebuilding, calling for a $1 Trillion infrastructure bill using both private and public investments that would further bolster the economy by the mantra “Buy American. Hire American.” To further the point, he mentioned that the United States has spent $6 trillion in the Middle East, enough to have rebuilt the country two-to-three times over.
President Trump praised the nation on its efforts to become energy independent, following his executive order allowing for the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines to begin operations.
The President briefly referred to his early executive order declaring that for every new regulation created, two older regulations must be rescinded. The President lauded this as a method for advancing business throughout the country and cutting the costs of onerous regulations.
Jobs and Poverty
Lastly, President Trump declared that he would continue to fight poverty and unemployment by bringing companies back to the U.S., stating that the administration’s efforts would create tens of thousands of jobs across the nation.
2. President Donald Trump singed an executive order to change the NECA-opposed Waters of the U.S. rule (WOTUS), instructing the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to "review and reconsider the rule.” This is the first step in the regulatory process to repeal the Obama administration’s 2015 regulation, which redefined and expanded the federal government’s regulatory jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act of 1972.
NECA’s Look Ahead: President Trump’s action on WOTUS completes another campaign promise and victory for the construction industry. The policy impact will be minimal in the short term and the results may not be seen by the public for months. The executive order is the first step for the actual repeal of the rule. The process is subject to a public notice-and-comment period. In addition to the slow pace of the notice-and-comment period, the order will undoubtedly be subject to legal action by outside groups. The rule currently remains under a 50-state court stay.
3. This week, the House passed the SCRUB Act (H.R. 998) which will create a five-year commission to identify federal regulations that could be rescinded. The Commission would focus on older regulations and aim to reduce overall regulatory costs by 15 percent. In addition, H.R. 998 would create a “regulatory cut-go” procedure, similar to President Trump’s earlier executive order where any agency issuing a new regulation must repeal an existing regulation of greater or equal value.
NECA’s Look Ahead: This Act continues the Trump administration and Republican efforts to roll back regulations that are viewed as impeding the growth of businesses. NECA will continue to monitor the implications of this proposed regulatory cutback.