Washington, D.C. - The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) today called on members of the U.S. House and Senate to focus on six priority areas - those that will most impact the ability of AGC members to hire, manage their businesses and pay taxes into the future - in the waning weeks of the 110th Congress.
"The construction industry is suffering a drop in employment, especially in highway and transportation construction, which has seen employment drop more than 5% in the past year," said Stephen E. Sandherr, chief executive officer of AGC. "We have also seen significant volatility in diesel/energy prices over the last five years, for instance, #2 diesel fuel is up 341%."
AGC urged Congress to focus on the following top six priorities:
- Fixing the shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund-Last Friday, the administration finally admitted that the situation is dire and that earlier than expected the balance in the Highway Account of the Highway Trust Fund is insufficient to pay its bills on time and in full. Their proposed remedy is much like the obvious remedy that has been popular in Congress for months. Congress must fix this shortfall immediately so that states and private industry are not left holding the bag.
- Extending the authorization for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) into the 111th Congress-Despite attempts in both chambers over the last year to reauthorize the AIP within the context of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization, there is still no resolution. Congress needs to give the FAA programs the authorization they need to modernize and improve safety at America's congested airports and air space.
- Finalizing appropriations for fiscal year 2009 and providing economic stimulus that creates jobs-Construction is a global market subject to price spikes and capital availability. The federal government spends about $100 billion on construction services each year. Making decisions on the full FY 2009 program will help contractors and the federal government work together to ensure federal funds are spent wisely. Using additional appropriations as an economic stimulus to improve federal, state, and local facilities will provide jobs and add a lasting infrastructure base from which to grow our economy for decades to come.
- Improving domestic energy security-Congress has heard from people around the country, including many AGC members, that energy prices are too high and too volatile. Improving the reliability of the domestic supply of energy requires both short and long-term solutions. Congress must act now to lay a solid foundation for the safety and security of the country.
- Extending Tax provisions-Each year, Congress grapples with the decisions on extending tax provisions, including halting the effects of the alternative minimum tax. The issue this year is exacerbated by the growing uncertainty in the credit market as well as economic pressures at the international, federal, state and local levels.
- Reauthorizing E-Verify-The simple, straightforward reauthorization of E-Verify gives employers across the country the confidence they need to deal with the mounting pressures of hiring a competent legal workforce. At least thirteen states require, or will soon require, the use of the federal government's E-Verify system.
"In the few legislative days that remain, we urge Congress to address these construction industry priorities," added Sandherr.
The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) is the largest and oldest national construction trade association in the United States. AGC represents more than 33,000 firms, including 7,500 of America's leading general contractors, and over 12,500 specialty-contracting firms. More than 13,000 service providers and suppliers are associated with AGC through a nationwide network of chapters. Visit the AGC Web site at www.agc.org.