The Business Council of Alabama joined its national partners and some 400 organizations this week to urge Congress to invest in our infrastructure.
“Not only is infrastructure the No. 1 issue facing Alabama but it’s the major issue nationally as we seek to keep our avenues of commerce open, up-to-date, and safe,” said BCA President and CEO William J. Canary. “Infrastructure Week is the opportunity to highlight to our federal and state legislators the need to maintain our infrastructure that is the key to economic development on land and the water.”
The 6thAnnual Infrastructure Week included 400 affiliate organizations staging more than 100 events around the country to call for investment in infrastructure. The week began with a panel that included Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donohue.
The U.S. Chamber-led Let’s Rebuild America (LRA) initiative is the Chamber’s response to America’s infrastructure challenge. “The business community knows the choices are keep up infrastructure needs or suffer U.S. economic productivity and global competitiveness.
National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons said it’s time to build. We cannot have a true 21st Century economy relying on 20th Century infrastructure,” he said.
“Infrastructure is one of the rare issues that enjoys widespread support, so there’s no reason for delay or inaction,” Timmons said. “Like tax reform, a significant investment in our nation’s infrastructure has the power to supercharge manufacturing in America by improving our competitiveness while also making our families and communities safer.”
Infrastructure Week highlights how small businesses need infrastructure improvements to keep growing, how water infrastructure investment is important, how investment in infrastructure will lead to across-the-board economic growth, and the critical safety improvements that come from improved infrastructure.
Infrastructure Week ends Monday.
SENATE SEEKS TO KEEP INTERNET PRICING NEUTRALITY
A U.S. Senate resolution approved Wednesday would undo the Federal Communication’s deregulation of Internet access and re-regulate the cost of access. The resolution, which passed 52-47, aims to reverse an FCC December vote to repeal net neutrality rules for Internet providers. All 49 Senate Democrats plus Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, John N. Kennedy of Louisiana, and Lisa A. Murkowski of Alaska, voted on the affirmative side.
The resolution would reverse an FCC repeal of its net neutrality rule for Internet providers and prohibit them from pricing access and performance based on speed and usage. Universal pricing would treat Internet customers equally and prohibit business suppliers from charging based on usage.Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai opposed net neutrality regulations, saying they are example of government overreach that discouraged Internet providers from investing in upgrades to their networks, the Washington Post reported.
Senate supporters brought the legislation under the Congressional Review Act, which permits Congress to revisit and reject decisions by administrative agencies within a certain window of their approval. The House is working on its version. Regulations imposed on cable providers ban the industry from blocking or slowing down websites, the Post said. The rules also prohibit those companies to charge extra for offering websites and app developers faster, easier access to Internet users.
SENATE SAYS NO TO BALANCED BUDGET PLAN
The Senate on Thursday rejected a plan to balance the budget by making steep cuts in spending. Alabama’s U.S. senators voted with the majority that voted 21-76 not to take up U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky’s legislation.
The legislation would have balanced the budget in five years and cut spending by roughly $13 trillion over 10 years compared to current spending levels, Roll Call reported. Sen. Paul said Congress had made an “unholy alliance” in which Republicans agreed to more domestic spending in order to boost military funding.
U.S. HOUSE TODAY REJECTS FARM BILL OVER IMMIGRATION
House members today defeated a five-year farm bill after conservatives rebelled over House leaders not holding a vote on immigration prior to the farm bill. In a 198-213 vote, Republican conservatives essentially joined Democrats in rejecting the measure, which would have introduced new requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program [SNAP] that were a priority for Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the Hill reported.
Conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus opposed the farm bill after leadership failed to deliver on their demand to hold a vote on a conservative-backed immigration bill crafted by Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., before the farm bill came to the floor, the Hill reported.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., assured members that Rep. Goodlatte’s bill would receive a vote next month but that wasn’t good enough for conservatives.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Senator Shelby Chairs Army Budget Hearing
U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (5/15) “U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittee on Defense, today conducted a subcommittee hearing to review the Fiscal Year 2019 funding request and budget justification for the U.S. Army.
“Senator Shelby concluded his questions by asking Secretary Esper and General Milley to discuss the Army’s continued modernization of its Stryker Brigade Combat Teams, pointing out that adequate resourcing is critical to enabling the Army to fight and win.
“The Army is seeking $182.1 billion in its current request, which is an increase of about $5 billion over amounts appropriated for fiscal year 2018. With this budget request, the Army will continue to build readiness and counter threats posed by near-peer competitors while modernizing in order to face future threats. We acknowledge the challenging assignment you face to source an increasing demand for forces today while also modernizing to compete with more technically capable adversaries.”
Farr to Congress: Manufacturers Are ‘Keeping Our Promise’
National Association of Manufacturers (Netram 5/16) “Appearing before the House Ways and Means Committee this week, Emerson Chairman and CEO and NAM Board Chair David Farr released the results of a groundbreaking new NAM survey revealing that manufacturers are keeping their promises after passage of the historic tax reform legislation. ‘Almost exactly one year ago, I appeared before Congress to make the case for tax reform that would make America fiercely competitive. Congress and the president kept their promise and delivered. Now, it’s our time to keep our promises and deliver-and we are,’ said Farr.
“The survey shows that 72 percent of manufacturers are increasing employee wages or benefits, 77 percent are hiring more workers and 86 percent are investing in new equipment and facilities. He noted that, ‘thanks to tax reform … manufacturers of all sizes are already investing more, growing more, hiring more and paying more. They are already improving lives and livelihoods.’
“The survey results made waves on social media and captured the attention of key leaders on Capitol Hill, including House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Farr’s appearance was a key story on Fox Business. The NAM continues spotlighting manufacturers’ stories of investment and job creation as part of the ‘Keeping Our Promise’ campaign-so that lawmakers and the public alike know that manufacturers can be trusted and are doing what we said we would.”
Republican Tax Reform Has Brought our American Economy Back to Life
The Hill (Norquist, Hendrie 5/18) “The tax cuts passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump six months ago are already impacting our nation in these ways. Ninety percent of wage earners around the country are already seeing increased take-home pay because of tax reform. Immediately after passing of the GOP tax cuts bill, businesses responded by giving their employees pay raises and bonuses. Small businesses across the country have also announced increased employee pay.
“The country now has a fairer tax code. The tax bill implemented numerous provisions that will bring meaningful simplification to millions of families. The U.S. economy is strong because of the Republican policies of tax reform and deregulation that have emphasized promoting American competitiveness and economic growth. In addition to increasing employee pay, businesses are also giving their workers other benefits, including new childcare and adoption programs, as well as development programs because of tax reform.
“The Affordable Care Act imposed a tax penalty of $695 for an individual and $2,085 for a family of four for failing to buy ‘qualifying’ health insurance as defined by the federal government. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act repeals this unfair tax. Utility companies across the country have responded to tax reform by lowering rates for consumers, resulting in $4.5 billion and counting in savings for 92 million customers.
“Business confidence has skyrocketed since the tax bill passed … capital expenditures among businesses has increased by 39 percent, the fastest rate in seven years. Americans have better retirement security. Companies are directly increasing retirement benefits because of tax reform. Overall, our country is thriving under the latest tax reform.”
(Grover Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform, Alex Hendrie is director of tax policy at Americans for Tax Reform)