1. Another Shutdown Averted
President Donald J. Trump signed H.J.Res. 31 - Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019 into law, avoiding another partial government shutdown. The bill passed the House in a 300 - 128 vote, and the Senate in a 83-16 vote.
NECA’s Look Ahead: This compromise package bill includes the 7 remaining Appropriations bills with the following key provisions:
$1.375 billion for additional border security that can be used for a wall or physical barrier.
$72.6 billion for improvement and maintenance of transportation infrastructure.
$49.26 billion for highway funding, a $1.8 billion increase.
$2.9 billion for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Funds.
$68 million for the NECA-supported Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program, leveraging federal dollars to finance more than $7 billion in water infrastructure projects.
$620 million in grants/loan subsidies for clean drinking water and waste disposal systems for rural communities.
NECA is encouraged by the bipartisan compromise that ultimately passed the House and the Senate. This bill fully funds the federal government through the 2019 fiscal year. The appropriations process for fiscal year 2020 will have to be completed and signed into law by September 30, 2019 in order to avoid another shutdown. NECA will continue to advocate for the full funding of the government in a timely manner, in an effort to avoid a last minute, stop-gap funding crisis.
2. House Holds Hearing on Multiemployer Pensions
Last week, the House Ways and Means Committee held a lengthy hearing entitled Improving Retirement Security for America’s Workers. The hearing, with such a broad starting point, touched on many issues relating to social security, multiemployer pensions, IRA’s, and healthcare insurance. NECA, along with other construction industry groups, urged members to focus on the impending crisis faced by the multiemployer community.
NECA’s Look Ahead: Much of the conversation surrounding multiemployer pensions centered on the impending failure of the Teamsters Central States plan and Chairman Neal’s proposal to fix this plan through a handful of measures. Anticipating this, NECA co authored a letter to encourage responsible reform and the authorization of composite plans as a method for modernizing the system.
3. NECA Calls on Congress to Repeal the Cadillac Tax
Earlier this week the Construction Employers of America, a coalition of seven premier national construction specialty contracting associations, sent a letter to Congress praising and encouraging members to cosponsor H.R. 748, “The Middle-Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act of 2019.” This legislation would repeal the onerous "Cadillac Tax” which, if implemented, would impose a 40 percent excise tax on employer provided healthcare plans above an arbitrary threshold.
NECA’s Look Ahead: Although just recently introduced, H.R. 748 has already accumulated over 160 cosponsors. While the repeal of this legislation is strongly supported by Members of Congress, it still faces an uphill battle due to its revenue costs.