Congressional Leaders Release Details of Stimulus Package

January 16, 2009
On January 15, the House Democratic Leadership announced details of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Details of the $825 billion package were released by the House Appropriations and Ways and Means Committees. The total package consists of $275 billion in economic recovery tax cuts and $550 billion in targeted investments, coupled with several unprecedented accountability measures. AGC estimates that approximately $150 billion of the spending proposed in this bill would benefit the construction industry. Approximately $55 billion of these funds are dedicated for building infrastructure.  Click here for a chart outlining all of the proposed infrastructure funding.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said yesterday that she hoped these Committees would take up the bill late next week, with the goal of sending a final product to the White House by mid-February. According to House Appropriations Chairman Dave Obey (D-WI), this package would create and save 3 to 4 million jobs and jumpstart our economy. In many instances, funds would be distributed through existing formulas. How funds are spent, all announcements of contract and grant competitions and awards, and formula grant allocations must be posted on a open government web site. Governors, mayors or others making funding decisions must personally certify that the investment has been fully vetted and is an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars. A Recovery Act Accountability and Transparency Board would also be created to review management of recovery dollars and provide early warning of problems. Federal and state whistleblowers who report fraud and abuse are protected. Finally, there are no earmarks in this package. The House Ways and Means Committee's $275 billion tax package would provide tax, health, and other benefits to American families, as well as incentives for businesses to grow and create jobs.  Highlights (click here for a chart of tax-related provisions) in the package benefiting the construction industry include:
  • One-year deferral of the 3 percent withholding law from 2011 to 2012
  • Bonus depreciation
  • 5-year carry-back of net operating losses
  • Extension of increased small business expensing
  • Repeal AMT limits on new private activity bonds
  • School construction bonds
  • Remove repayment requirement on $7,500 first-time homebuyer credit
  • Tax exempt and tax credit bonds to "recovery zones" (i.e., areas of high unemployment, foreclosures, or poverty)
  • Various energy efficiency tax incentives and bonds
AGC's CEO Stephen Sandherr released a statement indicating that the newly released details of the proposed stimulus package provide encouraging signs that Congress is willing to make significant, but essential, investments needed to rebuild our aging infrastructure and inefficient public buildings while repairing America's ailing economy.  However, he pointed out that in an environment where almost 900,000 construction workers have lost their jobs, the construction community has the capacity to do even more work than is currently being considered.  AGC is continuing to meet with House and Senate leaders to identify every possible avenue to increase the proposed investments in infrastructure in the draft package and enact the bill as soon as possible.  The AGC-led Building Design and Construction Industry Coalition met on January 15 and continues to push for infrastructure investment in a stimulus package.  The coalition placed an ad in Capitol Hill's Roll Call newspaper on January 14 calling for investment in America's public buildings.  Click here to view the ad.
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