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Pressure Growing for Alabama to Leverage Trump’s Accelerating Infrastructure Agenda

President Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan could accelerate with the administration needing a win and now that there’s more room on the legislative agenda. Trump transition team member Rep. Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania said with health care insurance pushed to the back burner, the infrastructure plan may gain steam.

One of Trump’s chief campaign promises was to revitalize the country’s roads, bridges, airports, and other infrastructure. He promised to deliver a massive infrastructure proposal to Congress within his first 100 days in office and even highlighted the issue in his victory speech, The Hill reported.

This ties in neatly with plans by a consortium of pro-business groups including the Business Council of Alabama and the Alliance for Alabama’s Infrastructure to upgrade Alabama’s investment in roads and bridges. With passage of infrastructure support, Alabama would be in prime position to take advantage of federal funds as outlined by the president.

“We’re not going to give the money to states unless they can prove that they can be ready, willing and able to start the project. We don’t want to give them money if they’re all tied up for seven years with state bureaucracy,” President Trump said when describing his 1 trillion federal infrastructure plan.

Reuters reports that U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said the administration will unveil the $1 trillion infrastructure plan later this year. Chao said the initiative would include “a strategic, targeted program of investment valued at $1 trillion over 10 years. The proposal will cover more than transportation infrastructure, it will include energy, water and potentially broadband and veterans’ hospitals as well.”

Chao said the administration plans to offer incentives for public-private partnerships rather than simply fund improvements. She said the plan would aim to speed the processes for government projects.


ALABAMA CONGRESSMAN RECEIVES AWARD

The National Association of Manufacturers honored U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Mobile, with the NAM Award for Manufacturing Legislative Excellence today in Mobile.

The presentation event was sponsored by Business Council of Alabama member Alabama Power Co. BCA First Vice President Perry Hand, president and CEO of Volkert Inc. in Mobile, represented the BCA.

The NAM Award for Manufacturing Legislative Excellence recognizes Rep. Byrne’s exemplary voting record in the 114th Congress, his solid support for a strong manufacturing economy, and a forward-thinking manufacturing agenda, the NAM said. “Representative Byrne plays a key role in shaping the national policies that impact manufacturers and we want to honor him accordingly,” the NAM said.


BCA’S NATIONAL PARTNERS WITNESS TRUMP’S ENERGY TURNAROUND

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers were present Tuesday when President Donald Trump signed a significant energy-related executive order that marks a key milestone in the nation’s transition to a new era for American energy policy.

Chamber Energy Institute President and CEO Karen Harbert and NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons were present at EPA headquarters on behalf of the broader business community for the signing of the executive action that reverses unlawful EPA power plant regulations put in place to appease a few political groups at the expense of American families and businesses.

“These executive actions are a welcome departure from the previous administration’s strategy of making energy more expensive through costly, job-killing regulations that choked our economy,” Chamber President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue said in a statement.

Timmons said manufacturers are leading the way to reduce emissions while adding value to the economy. “American families have suffered at the hands of far-reaching regulations; 297,696 federal restrictions on manufacturers alone have stifled job creation and reduced the capital that is spent on innovating new technologies to improve our environment even more,” Timmons said.

The NAM’s Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action and the U.S. Chamber litigated the EPA Power Plant Regulations rule.

The Business Council of Alabama joined 165 business organizations from 40 states in an amicus brief in support of the lawsuit. The Supreme Court issued a historic stay of the Obama administration’s unprecedented rule in February 2016.

The BCA is the exclusive representative of the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Alabama.


TRUMP LABOR SECRETARY NOMINEE WINS SENATE COMMITTEE APPROVAL

A Senate committee on Thursday advanced President Trump’s choice for labor secretary to the full Senate. Alexander Acosta won approval from the committee considering his confirmation on a 12-11 vote along party lines. To be confirmed, which could occur next week, Acosta would need support from a majority of the Senate, the Wall Street Journal reported. Labor secretary is one of the few posts still vacant in Mr. Trump’s cabinet.


U.S. REP. BYRNE ANNOUNCES STAFF CHANGES

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne of Mobile this week announced that Chad Carlough will serve as his chief of staff and Seth Morrow will serve as his deputy chief of staff.

“Chad and Seth have served Alabama’s First Congressional District exceptionally well in their current roles, and I have no doubt their great work will continue in these new positions,” Rep. Byrne said. “I truly believe we have the most talented and hardest working team on Capitol Hill, and these changes will only further strengthen our efforts.”

Carlough currently serves as Rep. Byrne’s legislative director. He served on active duty in the U.S. Coast Guard for seven years before joining the staff of the House Homeland Security Committee.

“This is an incredible opportunity to further my service to our nation,” Carlough said. “I consider it an honor to be able to lead such a talented team, and I look forward to continuing our office’s efforts to make life better for families in Southwest Alabama.”

Morrow currently serves as Rep. Byrne’s communications director. A graduate of the University of Alabama, Morrow previously worked for Rep. Martha Roby. In addition to his new role, Morrow will continue to handle Rep. Byrne’s communication efforts.

“I appreciate Congressman Byrne allowing me to further my service to the people of Southwest Alabama,” Morrow said. “Alabama will always be home to me, so the opportunity to continue serving my fellow Alabamians is an honor and responsibility I take very seriously.”

Rep. Byrne’s current chief of staff, Alex Schriver, is leaving the office effective today for an opportunity in the private sector.

“Alex has been an integral part of our team since my first day in Congress, and I will miss his leadership and counsel,” Rep. Byrne said. “That said, I could not be more excited for him, and I wish him all the best as he begins a new chapter in the private sector.”


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Senate Votes to Eliminate Obama-era Retirement Rule
The HILL (Carney 3/30) “A resolution eliminating an Obama-era regulation that allows states to create retirement accounts for low-income workers is headed to President Trump’s desk after a Senate vote on Wednesday. Senators by a 50-49 margin approved the House-passed resolution, which rolls back a rule that allows states to create retirement plans for private-sector workers whose employers do not offer their own retirement plans.

“Republicans blasted the rule, implemented by the Employees Benefits Security Administration in October, as another example of federal overreach under the Obama administration. ‘Under the guise of helping more people save for the future, it undercut a system of private retirement savings that has served millions of Americans very well for decades,” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said. ‘The end result would be more government at the expense of the private sector’. GOP lawmakers are using the Congressional Review Act to undo regulations implemented late in President Obama’s tenure by a simple majority.”

Education Secretary Touts School Choice
New York Times (Green /29) “Betsy DeVos, in her first extended policy address as education secretary, argued on Wednesday for an expansion of school choice programs, pointing to lagging test scores and a program championed by the Obama administration that funneled billions into low-performing schools but failed to produce better academic outcomes.

“Speaking at the Brookings Institution, which released a ranking of choice options in the country’s 100 largest school districts, Ms. DeVos made her case for choice policies that she said focused on the ‘individual child’. And she called for the rejection of an ‘us versus them mentality’ when it comes to investing in programs, like charter schools and school vouchers, to which President Trump has proposed giving part of a $1.4 billion funding increase in the fiscal year that begins in October.

“The Trump administration’s budget proposal includes $168 million in spending on charter schools and $250 million for providing families with vouchers to use at private schools. A $1 billion increase in Title 1 funding, which supports schools that serve high concentrations of low-income students, would be granted to districts that adopt policies considered trademarks of choice districts, like student-based budgeting and open enrollment.”

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Dana Beyerle
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