As the 111th Congress begins its new session, construction groups will be keeping an eye on House-Senate negotiations on a final health-care bill and Senate action on a jobs measure expected to include billions for infrastructure. Also on the agenda are successors to stopgap surface-transportation and aviation authorizations soon to lapse. Jeffrey Shoaf, the Associated General Contractors’ senior executive director for government affairs, says, “You’ve got the first quarter of this year chock-full of big issues.”
Talks continue on a final health-care bill (see below). Shoaf says lawmakers are “very close to getting it done but...every time they’ve voted on this they’ve been very close to losing.” The House bill passed 220-215. The Senate approved its bill 60-39, the minimum needed. For construction, a critical question is whether the final bill will include Senate language requiring small construction firms to provide employees with health insurance. Some industry groups support the provision; others want to see it deleted.