In a victory for engineering and construction groups, the House has overwhelmingly approved a bill to repeal a mandate that government agencies withhold 3% of the value of contracts from firms carrying out that work.

The House passed the measure on Oct. 27, by a 405-16 tally.

Shortly before that vote, the House also cleared a related bill, which would more than offset the estimated $11-billion revenue lost by repealing the 3% requirement, thus avoiding an increase to the overall federal deficit. 

That revenue-raising bill, approved on a much narrower 262-157 vote, would change the definition of adjusted gross income to determine eligibility for a tax credit under the 2010 health-care law. The change requires counting all of a taxpayer's Social Security benefits in adjusted gross income.

The two bills will be merged and go as a package to the Senate, where construction officials hope lawmakers will pass it.

In the Senate, a 3% repeal measure offered by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was blocked on a procedural vote on Oct. 20.

McConnell’s “pay-for” differed from the one that the House approved. It would cut an unspecified $30 billion in discretionary spending, with the Office of Management and Budget to determine which programs to trim. McConnell’s bill drew a veto warning from OMB.

McConnell’s bill did win 57 votes, a majority of the Senate, but short of the 60 needed to ward off a filibuster.