Associated Builders and Contractors members are lobbying Congress to stimulate construction, not with stimulus funds but by pushing financial regulators and banks to restore lending to private-sector projects and firms.

To push jobs, the open-shop construction group calls for unfreezing project lending for more access to capital, examining federal guidelines on write-downs and curtailing financial institutions from “unnecessarily restricting, reducing or calling in lines of credit” to contractors and suppliers.

“Freeing up credit is how to create a real economy,” said James W. Elmer, president of the Spokane, Wash.-based construction firm that bears his name and ABC’s chairman. Also speaking at ABC’s legislative conference on June 15-17 in Washington, D.C., was ABC’s government-affairs vice president, Geoff Burr, who said regulators are pressuring banks to be too conservative after the 2008 Wall Street bank collapse. “We need to put pressure on regulators to do the right thing,” he said.

You cannot afford to be complacent this year.”
— James W. Elmer, ABC Chairman

ABC has taken a stand against several Obama Administration agenda items, including an executive order that encourages project labor agreements on large federal projects, which ABC argues cuts out open-shop firms, and the health-care law, which ABC claims has costly employer mandates. The Employee Free Choice Act has stalled in Congress and is unlikely to move in an election year, observers say. Elmer noted the potential for Republicans to gain 25 to 50 seats in the House and up to seven in the Senate. “You cannot afford to be complacent this year,” he warned.