AGCWA leaders visit Congress to urge passage of highway bill, pension reform

Act Now: All members of the U.S. House of Representatives need to hear from their constituents that any further extensions are unacceptable. Visit Hardhats for Highways to deliver that message.

AGC of Washington leaders met with members of the state’s congressional delegation last week in Washington, D.C., and encouraged them to finally pass a long-term federal highway bill without additional short term extensions. The current authorization expires on Oct. 29.

Every member of the state’s congressional delegation expressed general support for a long-term highway bill, but there is yet no agreement over the specifics of how to pay for it.

With AGC’s support, the Senate in June passed a six-year bill known as the DRIVE Act. However, the Senate bill only included enough additional revenue to pay for three years of funding for the highway program. The funding included a mixed bag of items such as revenue from reducing interest rates paid by the Federal Reserve to large banks, selling oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve that is used to prevent energy crises and directing fees from Transportation Security Administration and customs processing. The House has balked at that and leaders considered international tax reform as a method to pay for the highway bill, but that idea seems to be losing steam.

AGC’s message to Congress is to fund it by whatever method works, which could include an increase of the gas tax (which, although an effective and efficient means to pay for highway projects, is a non-starter for many in Congress). Congress needs to hear from constituents, so visit Hardhats for Highways to demand that your representatives come to an agreement and pass a long-term federal highway plan now.

While in the nation’s capital as part of AGC of America’s chapter leadership conference, AGC President Gary Smith (Lease Crutcher Lewis), First Vice President Nancy Munro (MidMountain Contractors), Second Vice President Jake Jacobson (Osborne Construction), Treasurer Mark Seaman (Abbott Construction), AGC Executive Vice President David D’Hondt and Chief Lobbyist Jerry VanderWood paid visits to each Washington State congressional office.

In addition to urging passage of the highway bill, the group also asked members of the delegation to continue efforts on multiemployer pension plan reform, overturn EPA’s ill-advised “waters of the U.S.” regulations, and pass comprehensive tax reform.